Marc-Olivier Vallerand ruined a perfectly good South Carolina Stingrays comeback.
Vallerand scored two goals, including the game-winner 2:35 into overtime, to lead Greenville past South Carolina, 4-3, Sunday afternoon before a raucous crowd of 6,107 at the North Charleston Coliseum.
The Stingrays, who clinched a spot in next month's Kelly Cup playoffs with the point, are 35-28-6 (76 points) heading into the final week of the regular season.
The Road Warriors are in first place in the Eastern Conference as they improved to 43-22-4 (90 points).
Trailing most of the third period, the Stingrays rallied from a 3-1 deficit with two goals in the final 3:19 to send the game into overtime.
But Vallerand was able to sneak a puck underneath the pads of the Stingrays goalie Todd Ford to give the Road Warriors a victory.
A dejected Stingrays locker room could only shake their collective heads at what might have been had they managed to come away with a win.
"Clinching a playoff spot is one of the few positives we can take out of this game," said Stingrays captain Matt Scherer.
"We really didn't start playing with a sense of urgency until the last five minutes of the game. We didn't throw in the towel in the final five minutes, which was good to see, but we need a stronger effort throughout the game to have a chance to beat those guys."
After a solid first period, the Stingrays grabbed a 1-0 lead on Rob Ricci's 24th goal of the season. Ricci's wrist shot over the shoulder of Nick Riopel with 12 minutes left in the second period seemed to wake up the Road Warriors, who dominated the next 20 minutes of action.
"They took their game to another level and we didn't respond," said Stingrays coach Cail MacLean. "They outbattled us, and when we had the opportunities to turn the tide back in our favor, we didn't execute. Greenville is a very hard working team.
"They seemed to get to all the loose pucks and they seemed to win all the one-on-one battles and really took the game to us."
The Road Warriors poured on 19 shots in the second period, and if not for some brilliant play from Ford, the game could have easily gotten out of hand.
"Todd kept us in the game in the second period," MacLean said. "He was dynamite for us and was the key reason we were able to get that game into overtime."
Jimmy Kilpatrick tied the game late in the second period and then Vallerand gave the Road Warriors a 2-1 lead just 62 seconds into the third period on the power play.
"Again, we took a couple of undisciplined penalties and it cost us," MacLean said.
Brendan Connelly gave the Road Warriors a 3-1 lead when he deflected a Wes Cunningham shot from the point on the power play with 6:49 left.
The Stingrays answered three minutes later when Ryan Del Monte scored his first goal in a Stingrays uniform off a beautiful cross-crease pass from Derek Keller.
"It was good to finally see Ryan get a goal," MacLean said. "I don't think I've seen a player more snakebit than Ryan the last two or three weeks. He's been getting some good scoring chances and just hasn't been able to put the puck in the net."
Ricci tied the game with 45 seconds left in regulation when his backhand ricocheted off a Greenville defender and slipped past Riopel for the score.
"I was just trying to get something on net," Ricci said. "I didn't see it go in, I just heard the crowd go nuts. In that situation, you're just trying to put something on net."
The Stingrays are tied for fourth place with Florida and Wheeling with three games left against the Everblades in the regular season.
"We're in and that's an accomplishment," MacLean said. "Now it's about getting home ice advantage."
--Former University of Wisconsin star Sean Dolan made his professional debut Sunday against Greenville.
--Forward Grant McNeill was a healthy scratch.
--Forward Luke Popko fractured his wrist and will miss the rest of the regular season.
First Period: No goals. Penalties: Kiser, SC (slashing ), 3:59; Reynolds, G (interference), 15:06.
Second Period: 1. SC Ricci 24 (Goebel, Del Monte), 7:43. 2. G, Kilpatrick 19 (Bowers, Cunningham), 18:47. Penalties: Cunningham, G (tripping), 1:30; Baldwin, G (interference), 5:36; O'Brien, SC (delay of game), 11:28; Cullity, SC (hooking), 13:05; Del Monte, SC (cross-checking), 19:55.
Third Period: 3. G, Vallerand 27 (Kilpatrick, Bowers), 1:02 (PP). 4. G, Connolly 21 (Cunningham, Harper), 13:11 (PP). 5. SC, Del Monte 3 (Keller, Ricci), 16:41. 6. SC, Ricci 25 (O'Brien, Keller), 19:15. Penalties: Scherer, SC (boarding), 11:49; Cunningham, G (tripping), 17:08.
Overtime: 7. G, Vallerand 28 (Wong, Farrell), 2:35. Penalties: No penalties.
Shots on Goal: Stingrays 7-8-14-2-31; Greenville: 7-19-11-4-41. Penalties: Stingrays 510; Greenville 4-8. Power Play: Stingrays 0 for 4; Greenville 2 for 5. Goalies: Stingrays - Todd Ford (11-7-4) 41 shots, 37 saves. Greenville - Nick Riopel (22-12-2) 31 shots, 28 saves. Att: 6,107.