Herbert fuels Rays in rout

Forward Caleb Herbert didn’t miss a beat in his first game back with the South Carolina Stingrays.

After being reassigned from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League earlier in the day, Herbert notched a pair of goals as the Stingrays exploded for a four-goal second period to earn a 5-1 victory over the Wichita Thunder on Friday night at the Intrust Bank Arena.

The Stingrays victory, combined with Atlanta’s shootout loss to Orlando, moved the Stingrays (26-16-4-2) into second place in the South Division with 58 points.

South Carolina goaltender Dekanich stopped 25 shots to earn his 13th win of the season. He turned aside all 12 shots he faced in the third period for South Carolina, which has collected points in six straight games and finishes the four-game Midwest trip Saturday with a rematch against the Thunder (10-29-4-4) at 8:05 p.m.

Herbert, who scored 19 goals in his rookie season for South Carolina last year, broke a 1-1 deadlock in the second period with a pair of back-to-back goals.

At 4:14, defenseman Joey Leach poked the puck loose in neutral ice for the Stingrays. Herbert collected it and rushed in on a breakaway, scoring over the glove of goaltender David Shantz to make it 2-1 Stingrays.

At 8:23, Derek DeBlois, who returned from Lake Erie of the AHL today, setup Herbert for his second goal of the game, feeding the forward with a perfect pass in front. Herbert was uncovered in the low slot and tucked a redirect past Shantz’s right pad to give the Stingrays a 3-1 lead.

David Pacan would score his team-leading 16th goal of the season on a breakaway at 11:44 for South Carolina, courtesy of a great up-ice pass from Nick D’Agostino. Shortly after Pacan made it 4-1, Brett Cameron scored on the power play to give the Stingrays a 5-1 lead at 17:52.

South Carolina’s offensive outburst started only 2:31 into the opening period. Defenseman Brendan Ellis scored his sixth goal of the season from the blue line. Forward Patrick Gaul sent a pass back to the point. Ellis let a slapshot go that fluttered and appeared to fool Shantz. The shot beat the goaltender under the blocker to make it 1-0.

The Thunder would tie the game late in the period on a power-play goal. The Stingrays were assessed a pair of penalties at the same time, and Landon Oslanski scored the lone Wichita goal of the game, beating Dekanich on a one-timer from the left side at 15:44 of the first period.

Fans are encouraged to head to King Street Grille-Northwoods for the Official Watch Party featuring select $3 drafts for Saturday’s game.