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Shepard stops 29 shots as Stingrays win third straight ECHL game

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Stingrays vs the swamp rabbits10.JPG

Stingrays defeated the Greenville Swamp Rabbits in a shootout on Saturday. They had played Greenville in their home opener on Friday, Dec. 11. File/Andrew Whitaker/Staff

GREENVILLE — The South Carolina Stingrays (3-0-1-0) won their first shootout of the season Saturday, defeating the Greenville Swamp Rabbits (1-3-0-1) 3-2 for their third straight win on Saturday night at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena.

Stingrays forwards Dylan Steman and Mason Morelli scored goals in the win, while goaltender Hunter Shepard picked up his second victory of the year with 29 saves and four straight denials in the shootout.

Steman got the scoring started just 2:30 into the opening period and made it 1-0 with his second goal in as many games that came with assists from defenders Doyle Somerby and Tariq Hammond. The second-year forward fired a rebound at the net and the loose puck beat goaltender Ryan Bednard to give SC an early lead.

The Swamp Rabbits got even at 6:13 of the frame when Nick Poehling scored off a feed from his brother Jack to tie the game at 1-1.

In the second, Morelli put the Rays back in front 2-1 with an unassisted goal at 9:25, but Greenville evened things back up before the end of the frame when Sam Jardine scored at 17:20.

The two rivals continued their 2-2 deadlock  through the third period and overtime, but not without some close calls on both sides. South Carolina had chances to go back in front throughout the third when they outshot Greenville 11-5 and in overtime when they had a 10-5 shots-on-goal advantage.

Bednard, however, did not blink and kept his team in the game. The Rays were unable to capitalize on a late penalty to Jardine for tripping that had SC on the power play during the final minute of regulation and the beginning moments of overtime. Then later on in the OT, Max Novak was tripped up while on a breakaway and was awarded a penalty shot, but the Swamp Rabbits’ netminder turned that aside as well to keep the game going.

In the shootout forwards Andrew Cherniwchan and Dan DeSalvo found the back of the net, while Shepard turned away four different Greenville skaters to secure the win for SC.

Bednard finished with 35 saves in a losing effort for the Swamp Rabbits. 

The two teams meet again Sunday as the Swamp Rabbits come to North Charleston for a 3:05 p.m. start at the North Charleston Coliseum.

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