The South Carolina Stingrays played their best game in the last four days Tuesday night against Gwinnett.
It still wasn’t good enough to beat the Gladiators.
Evan Bloodoff had a goal and an assist to lead Gwinnett past South Carolina, 6-4, Tuesday night before a crowd of 2,074 at the North Charleston Coliseum.
It was only the second loss in regulation for the Stingrays, who dropped to 10-2-2 (22 points), but remained first place in the South Division. The Gladiators improved to 5-10-0 (10 points).
Over the weekend, the Stingrays looked lethargic in a 4-1 loss to Florida Saturday night and didn’t skate much better in a 2-1 win Sunday afternoon against Gwinnett.
With a day’s rest, the Stingrays were able to muster 33 shots on goal, including 19 shots in the opening period, and more than doubled the Gladiators’ scoring chances and puck possession.
“We did a lot of good things and I’m big on making sure we keep things in perspective,” said Stingrays coach Spencer Carbery. “When you play well and do things I’m asking the guys to do, then it’s hard to be too upset. You’re going to lose games like that sometimes. It’s not the result we wanted, but the process and what we did during the game was good, there were a lot of positives.”
Three times during the game, the Stingrays fell behind, and three times they fought back to tie the game. Peter Boyd had two goals in a three-goal second period for the Stingrays.
“We were buzzing around their zone and we had good energy,” Carbery said. “We created a lot of chances in the offensive zone and we were moving our feet. It was easily the best game we played all weekend.”
Mark Hagel tied the game up at 3-3 with his power play goal with less than two minutes left in the second period.
Then rookie Wayne Simpson scored his first professional goal to give the Stingrays a 4-3 lead off a beautiful pass from Scott Campbell with 9:04 left in regulation.
“I thought we were on our way to getting two points,” Carbery said. “It was great to see Wayne get his first pro goal and it was a huge goal for us at that moment. We needed it in that situation.”
But South Carolina goalie Brooks Ostergard struggled down the stretch in his first start of the season for the Stingrays.
Gladiators defenseman Justin Weller tied the game up at 4-4 less than three minutes after Simpson’s goal, and then Mike Embach picked off a clearing attempt by Ostergard and scored into the empty net.
“We win as a team and lose as team,” Carbery said. “We need to shore some things up in our defensive zone and learn how to finish off a game.”
Gwinnett 1 2 3—6
Stingrays 0 3 1—4
First Period: 1. G, Bartliff 5 (Everson, Spivak), 8:00. Penalties: Embach, G (hooking), 14:42; Vaughan, SC (tripping), 14:52; Martine, G (tripping), 16:37.
Second Period: 2. SC, Boyd 4 (Grimshaw, Gaul), 2:32. 3. G, Everson 3 (Bloodoff, Narbonne), 10:13 (PP). 4. SC, Boyd 5 (Sparks, Collins), 10:58. 5. G, Legault 4 (Martine, Halley), 11:53. 6. SC, Hagel 7 (Owens, Painchaud), 18:33 (PP). Penalties: Currie, SC (delay of game), 9:40; Embach, G (cross-checking), 14:38; Narbonne, G (delay of game), 16:44; Bartliff, G (fighting - major), 19:43; Collins, SC (roughing, fighting - major), 19:43.
Third Period: 7. SC, Simpson 1 (Campbell, Painchaud), 10:56. 8. G, Weller 1 (Currie, Spivak), 13:31. 9. G, Embach 2 (unassisted) 15:16. 10. G,, Bloodoff 6 (unassisted) 19:10 (EN). Penalties: No penalties.
Shots on Goal: Stingrays 19-8-6-33; Gwinnett:6-9-14-29. Penalties: Stingrays 5-13; Gwinnett 4-11. Power Play: Stingrays: 1 for 4; Gwinnett 1 for 2. Goalies: Stingrays – Brooks Ostergard (0-1-0) 28 shots, 23 saves. Gwinnett – Peter Delmas (3-3-0) 33 shots, 24 saves. Att: 2,074.