Historically, the Cincinnati Cyclones have been one of the few teams in the ECHL that have had their way with the South Carolina Stingrays.
Pink in the Rink
Evansville Icemen vs. South Carolina Stingrays
When: Saturday, 7:05 p.m.
Where; North Charleston Coliseum
That trend continued Friday night.
Josh McFadden had two goals and Jonathan Hazen had a goal and two assists to lead Cincinnati past South Carolina, 5-2, before a crowd of 4,092 at the North Charleston Coliseum.
The Stingrays, who are just 1-5-1 in their last seven games, fell to 31-15-4 (68 points), but remained in first place in the ECHL's Eastern Conference. The Cyclones improved to 30-19-2 (62 points).
In 20 games all-time against Cincinnati, the Stingrays have recorded just five regular-season wins. No other team in the ECHL has a more lopsided advantage in a head-to-head series with at least 20 games played between the two franchises. The two teams have met three times in the postseason, and the Cyclones have won two of three playoff series.
Of course none of that mattered Friday night to Stingrays head coach Spencer Carbery.
"It didn't matter who we played tonight, we were not going to beat anyone," Carbery said. "We could have been playing against the worst team in the league and it wouldn't have mattered. That's how bad we were at times tonight."
The Stingrays continue to be plagued by mistakes and lapses inside their defensive zone.
"At the beginning of the season we were a very smart hockey team, really intelligent," Carbery said. "We made the simple plays. Right now, we're making terrible decisions with the puck. We're making huge, huge mistakes and the goalie can't cover up for those mistakes."
Carbery said the mistakes being made right now are both mental and physical.
"We have a bad change that leads to a three-on-two odd-man rush," Carbery said. "We're soft in our defensive zone and let a guy walk around us and the puck is in the back of our net."
Carbery said he'll spend extra time with the players in video sessions to try and correct the problems they've had of late.
"Unfortunately, this kind of performance is becoming the norm with this group and it's going to take a lot of work to turn it around," Carbery said. "There are some guys that are going to have to get a lot better for us to have some success. Until we realize that it's what you give up defensively that determines your success in this league, we're going to struggle."
While the rest of the league has added players and gotten players back from the American Hockey League, the Stingrays lineup has remained stagnant.
"There's no doubt the league has gotten better in the last month or so," Carbery said. "That's not an excuse. We have the guys in this locker room to get the job done."
The Cyclones jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period off of goals from Hazen and Brian Nugent.
South Carolina's Jack Downing cut the lead in half with his wrist shot late in the opening period.
But the Cyclones broke the game open with back-to-back goals in the second period from Troy Lewis and McFadden to push their advantage to 4-1.
Defenseman Drew Baker scored for the Stingrays to cut the gap to 4-2 with less than four minutes to play in the second period.
Cincinnati 2 2 1 -5
South Carolina 1 1 0 -2
First Period: 1. C, Hazen 14 (Krogh), 1:55. 2. C, Nugent 8 (Luciani, Aronson), 10:48. 3. SC, Downing 12 (Gaul, Baker), 14:16. Penalties: Langdon, SC (fighting), 7:36; Dalluisen, C (fighting), 7:36.
Second Period: 4. C, Lewis 11 (Birkholz, Hazen), 10:34. 5. C, McFadden 5 (Lewis, Crowder), 15:16. 6. SC, Baker 3 (Mitchell, Simpson), 16:50. Penalties: Crowder, C (hooking), 0:28; Birkholz, C (boarding), 12:28.
Third Period: 7. C, McFadden 6 (Hazen, Eves), 19:47. Penalties: Daniels, C (fighting), 14:07; Eves, C (roughing), King, SC (roughing, fighting), 14:07; Krogh, C (hooking), 18:29.
Shots on Goal: Stingrays 14-9-7-30; Cincinnati:10-6-5-21. Penalties: Stingrays 7-20; Cincinnati 4-14. Power Play: Stingrays: 0 for 3; Cincinnati 0 for 0. Goalies: Stingrays - Jeff Jakaitis (23-9-3) 20 shots, 16 saves. Cincinnati - Joe Howe (10-3-0) 21 shots, 19 saves. Att: 4,092.