South Carolina forward Wayne Simpson had a goal and two assists and Igor Gongalsky and Kyle Bodie each added a goal and an assist to lead South Carolina past Gwinnett, 4-1, Thursday afternoon at The Arena at Gwinnett Center.
Gwinnett Gladiators at South Carolina Stingrays
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: North Charleston Coliseum
Records: Gwinnett 10-19-2 (22 points); Stingrays 23-5-3 (49 points)
It was the fourth straight win for the Stingray, who improved to an ECHL-best 23-5-3 (49 points). The Gladiators fell to 10-19-2 (22 points).
The Gladiators jumped on the board first with a power-play goal from forward Bobby Hughes slipping a wrist shot between the legs of South Carolina goalie Jeff Jakaitis at 7:13 of the first period.
"We were not very good for the first 10 or 15 minutes of the game," said Stingrays coach Spencer Carbery. "I don't if that had anything to do with the early start of the game (2 p.m.) or the five-hour bus ride from Charleston, but we were not very sharp for most of the first period."
Less than a minute later, Bodie tied the contest smashing a pass from Simpson past Gladiators goalie Paul Karpowich from the top of the goal crease at 7:51. Forward Patrick Gaul put the Stingrays up 2-1 with his sixth goal of the season at 14:16 off an assist from defenseman Jeremy Price.
"We got a couple of lucky bounces after they scored and were able to capitalize on those chances," Carbery said. "To be honest, we shouldn't have been leading after the first period. Gwinnett outworked us and probably should have been leading by a couple of goals. Jeff came up with a couple of great saves that kept us in the game."
Simpson gave the Stingrays a two-goal advantage 1:13 into the second period knocking a rebound past Karpowich for his ninth goal of the season. Gongalsky and Bodie picked up assists. Gongalsky sealed the victory with an empty-net goal with help from Simpson at 19:05 of the third period. The Stingrays finished the contest 0-for-2 on the power play while the Gladiators went 1-for-3.
"I thought we really picked up our game in the second and third periods," Carbery said. "We had a good talk after the first period and I thought we were very sharp the rest of the way.
The line of Gogalsky, Simpson and Bodie accounted for most of the Stingrays offense.
"It was nice to see those guys get it going offensively," Carbery said. "They'd struggled a little bit here lately getting on the scoresheet. They were really good at finishing their chances."
Jakaitis picked up his league-leading 18th win over the season, making 21 saves.
The Stingrays return to the North Charleston Coliseum Friday night against the Gladiators for Family Four Pack Friday! Grab four tickets, four hotdogs, four sodas and large popcorn for $55 at the Coliseum Box Office. Military and College tickets are $5 with proper ID.