There’s no such thing as a bad shot in overtime, just ask South Carolina Stingrays forward Rob Ricci.
Ricci scored 2 minutes and five seconds into overtime to lead South Carolina past Toledo, 6-5, in a wild finish in Game 3 of the ECHL’s Kelly Cup Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night before a crowd of 3,092 at the North Charleston Coliseum.
The Stingrays are up 3-0 in the best-of-seven series and can move onto the Kelly Cup finals with a victory in Game 4 on Friday night at 7:05 p.m. at the North Charleston Coliseum. Game 5, if necessary, will be played Saturday night at 7:05 p.m.
Ricci came down the left wing and wristed a shot on goal from 50-feet out that slipped over the shoulder of Toledo goalie Jeff Lerg for the game winner.
It was Ricci’s first goal of the playoffs.
“To be honest, I was kind of surprised that it went in,” said Ricci, who was a member of the Stingrays 2009 Kelly Cup championship team. “We were on the rush, we had a couple of guys driving to the net and all I was trying to do was get it on net and luckily it went in. It was a great result to get that result and get the win.”
During the intermission after the third period, Stingrays coach Spencer Carbery emphasized that the Stingrays needed to shoot as much as possible.
“There’s never a bad shot in overtime,” Carbery said. “There are three keys in overtime. You’ve got to win the faceoffs because a lot of goals in overtime are scored off of faceoffs. No turnovers in neutral ice and shoot everything, I mean everything. Get pucks to the net and Rob’s goal is a prime example. He just throws it on net and somehow it finds a way in.”
The Stingrays top line of Andrew Rowe, Wayne Simpson and Derek DeBlois dominated the game. Rowe finished with a goal and three assists, Simpson had a goal and two assists, while DeBlois ended with two goals and two assists.
“We have great chemistry right now,” Rowe said. “We were buzzing around all game. We’re just finding each other out there on the ice and we did a good of finishing our chances when we got them tonight.”
It was by no means an easy win for the Stingrays. The Stingrays led 2-0, 4-1 and 5-2 during the game only to watch the Walleye battle back and tie the game and send it into overtime. Toledo forward Martin Frik led the Walleye with a hat trick.
“I give our guys a ton of credit for showing a tremendous amount of resiliency getting back into the game against a team like this,” said Toledo coach Derek Lalonde. “To fight back like we did late in the second period and in third period I thought showed the character of this team. The issue tonight is the same as in Game 1 and Game 2, we just have too many lapses in our game and they are too good of a team to do that against.”
Carbery said he can do without the drama in the future.
“This team does two things, as coaches they keep you on the edge of your seat,” Carbery said. “They almost give you a heart attack at times. The second thing is that they find a way to win at the end of the day. Whether we give up a lead or we’re trailing, this group continues to get the job done and find different ways to win hockey games.”