Maybe the South Carolina Stingrays should consider moving the last two games of the Kelly Cup Finals to Allen, Texas.
The Stingrays, who are just 4-8 at home during the postseason, certainly have proven they can’t win on home ice. For the second straight game, the Allen Americans won a game in overtime at the North Charleston Coliseum.
Allen’s Greger Hanson scored 5:25 into overtime to lift the Americans past the Stingrays, 3-2, Tuesday night in Game 5 of the Kelly Cup Finals before a crowd of 4,184 at the North Charleston Coliseum.
With the victory, the Americans lead the best-of-seven series, 3-2, and can claim their first Kelly Cup title in their inaugural season in the ECHL with a victory in Game 6 at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday at the Coliseum.
A Game 7, if necessary, would be played Sunday night in Allen, Texas.
The game was delayed for more than hour after heavy rain and lightning knocked power went at the North Charleston Coliseum.
The Stingrays set an ECHL record with 10 road wins during the Kelly Cup playoffs, including a 2-1 mark already at the Allen Event Center.
“Of course it’s frustrating that we can’t get a win at home,” said South Carolina Stingrays captain Andrew Rowe. “It’s tough that we haven’t been able to win at home because our fans have come out and given us great support. It just seems like one bounce goes their way and that’s it. But I believe in our locker room. I know everyone in our locker room believes we can still get it done.”
It was the ninth overtime game of the playoffs and the eighth time the Stingrays have gone to an extra period at the North Charleston Coliseum.
However, overtime has not been kind to South Carolina, especially on home ice where the Stingrays have lost three straight overtime games and four of their last five in the extra session. The Stingrays lost by the same score, 3-2, in double overtime in Game 4 on Sunday night.
The Stingrays shouldn’t need any motivation going into Game 6 Wednesday night, said Stingrays head coach Spencer Carbery.
“If I’m playing in the game (Wednesday), there’s not going to be an ounce of anything left in my body when the game is over,” Carbery said. “I absolutely lay everything I have on the line. That’s what I think everyone hopes they see from this group (Wednesday). The series and where we are at is really irrelevant. It’s more about what we do on home ice and what we leave out here.”
Hanson got the game-winner after a beautiful pass from defenseman Konrad Abeltshauser in neutral ice that sprung him into the offensive zone. Hanson beat South Carolina goalie Jeff Jakaitis with a wrist shot over his blocker.
“(Abelshauser) made an unbelievable play at the blue line,” said Hanson, who scored his 12th goal of the playoffs. “I got some room in their zone and was lucky to score.”
The Stingrays grabbed a 1-0 lead on Patrick Gaul’s goal midway through the first period. Gaul was behind the net and shot the puck off of Allen goalie Riley Gill’s pads. As Gill fell back into the net, the puck squirted across the goal line for the score.
Allen tied the game on Jamie Schaafsma’s goal midway through the second period.
The American took their first lead of the game, 2-1, on Chris Crane’s wrist shot from the right faceoff circle three minutes into the third period.
South Carolina tied the game when Wayne Simpson back-handed a shot past Gill off a Drew MacKenzie rebound with 3:55 to play in regulation.
“I thought we had some pretty good energy after Wayne’s goal and had a chance to win it in regulation,” Rowe said.