The South Carolina Stingrays didn’t do the little things they needed to do to come away with a victory Tuesday night against Greenville.
It was those little things, that attention to detail, that has propelled the Stingrays to the top of the standings and the best record in the ECHL’s Eastern Conference during the first half of the season.
Todd Hosmer scored two goals and Jeff Malcolm made 36 saves to lead Greenville past South Carolina, 5-3, Tuesday night before a crowd of 2,202 at the North Charleston Coliseum.
The Stingrays, who have lost four of their last six games, are 29-9-3 (53 points), but remained in first place in the Eastern Conference. The Road Warriors, who have won four straight, improved to 18-15-3 (39 points).
While the South Carolina outshot the Road Warriors, 39-25, it was their “self-inflicted” mistakes that cost the Stingrays a chance at a victory against their in-state rival.
“We’re just not playing very well right now,” Carbery said. “We’re not doing the things, the little things that we were doing earlier in the season when we were winning hockey games. We got some bad breaks, some bad bounces, but they were self-inflicted. We lost coverage, we had breakdowns in our defensive zone and we were standing around. We just were not very sharp tonight.”
The five goals that Stingrays goalie Jeff Jakaitis allowed were the most all season in a single game.
“We just didn’t play very well in front of Jeff tonight,” Carbery said. “He might not have had his best game, but four of the five goals you can’t fault him for.”
The Stingrays fired off 39 shots, but could have recorded a dozen more if they had not been blocked by the Road Warriors’ defense. Getting shots to the net and blocking shots were two points of emphasis for Carbery after the game.
“We’re not blocking shots and we’re getting too many of our own shots blocked or deflected,” Carbery said. “You’ve got to be committed to blocking shots. It’s not something you can work on. If you’re in this league, you need to block shots. Some of the most skilled guys at the NHL level don’t have to block shots, but if you’re in the ECHL, you’ve got to block shots if you expect to move up to the American League.”
Hosmer kicked off the scoring 5:14 into the game, slipping a wrist shot between the Jakaitis from the top of right-wing circle.
The Stingrays tied the contest on the power play when Igor Gongalsky backhanded in his fifth goal of the season over Malcolm’s glove at 11:38 of the first period. Defensemen Steve Spinell and Jeremy Price recorded assists.
The Road Warriors answered a minute later when Greenville forward Josh Nicholls made it 2-1.
Early in the second period, Road Warriors defenseman Mike Marcou made it a 3-1 game with his sixth goal of the season.
Price pulled the Stingrays back within a goal, 3-2, at 9:19 of the second period, completing a 2-on-1 rush with forward Paul Rodrigues.
With Greenville defenseman Sam Klassen in the penalty box for high-sticking, Road Warriors team captain Sean Berkstresser capitalized on an unassisted shorthanded breakaway at 16:45 for a 4-2 advantage.
Hosmer grabbed his second goal of the game at 4:39 of the third period to extend the Road Warriors’ lead.
Stingrays forward Kyle Bodie wrapped up the game, scoring at 16:40 with a nifty wrist shot off an assist from Gongalsky and forward Wayne Simpson.
Greenville 2 2 1 – 5
Stingrays 1 1 1 – 3
First Period: 1. G, Hosmer 1 (Marcou, Nicholls), 5:14. 2. SC, Gongalsky 5 (Spinell, Price), 11:38 (PP). 3. G, Nicholls 6 (Klassen, Rowe), 12:48. Penalties: Isaacs, G (slashing), 10:26.
Second Period: 4. G, Marcou 5 (Cole, Berkstresser), 2:56. 5. SC, Price 3 (Rodrigues), 9:19. 6. G, Berkstresser 4 16:45 (SH). Penalties: Noreau, G (high-sticking), 12:25; Klassen, G (high-sticking), 15:46.
Third Period: 7. G, Hosmer 2 (Rowe), 4:39. 8. SC, Bodie 5 (Gongalsky, Simpson), 16:40. Penalties: No penalties.
Shots on Goal: Stingrays 9-19-11-39; Greenville: 10-9-6-25. Penalties: Stingrays 0-0; Greenville 3-6. Power Play: Stingrays 1 for 3; Greenville 0 for 0. Goalies: Stingrays –.Jeff Jakaitis (19-3-3) 25 shots, 20 saves. Greenville – Jeff Malcolm (6-3-1) 39 shots, 36 saves. Att: 2,002.