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Mic Smith

On the scoresheet it will look like a slap shot from the blue line. That's the way Gregg Johnson will describe it years from now.

And why shouldn't he?

Derek Keller's slap shot from the point deflected off of Johnson and into the net six minutes into overtime as South Carolina beat Cincinnati, 3-2, in Game 4 of its best-of-5 ECHL American Conference quarterfinal series Saturday night before a crowd of 2,197 at the North Charleston Coliseum.

With the victory, the Stingrays forced a decisive Game 5 tonight at 7 p.m. at the North Charleston Coliseum.

It was the sixth time in three years the Stingrays and Cyclones took a Kelly Cup playoff game into overtime. A night after the Cyclones defeated the Stingrays on Josh Heidinger's overtime goal, the Stingrays returned the favor.

"I guess 60 minutes isn't enough for us," said South Carolina coach Cail MacLean. "These are two evenly matched teams, two teams that play very good defensively and stick to their systems, so overtime isn't that big of a surprise."

On Saturday, Jake Hauswirth forced a turnover along the boards that Keller picked up at the blue line. Keller slid to his left and unleashed a slap shot that deflected off of the shin pad of Johnson and trickled past Cincinnati goalie Jeremy Smith for the game winner.

"I knew it was going to be a greasy goal that would win it," Johnson said. "I was just trying to get some traffic

in front of (Smith) and thankfully it hit off my pads and went in."

Keller, who was playing for St. Lawrence University a month ago, had a hand in all three Stingrays goals Saturday.

"Jake finished his check and the puck bounced right to me," Keller said. "Jake made the play. All I had to do was get something on net. We talked about getting pucks on net during the intermission and we knew it was probably going to be an ugly goal that won it."

It was anything but ugly for the Stingrays, who emptied the bench and mobbed Johnson at center ice.

"That's a great feeling, getting an overtime winner," Johnson said. "We haven't done a great job of finishing off our scoring chances in this series. You've got to give Cincinnati credit, they've done a good job with their systems."

Cincinnati coach Chuck Weber certainly wasn't surprised that the game went into overtime.

"I think we've had two epic games down here," Weber said. "I thought both teams battled hard defensively. I thought both teams were not able to capitalize on some scoring chances and, in the end, South Carolina got the last bounce."

Stingrays goalie Todd Ford made 22 saves to pick up his second win of the series.

"I put (Friday) behind me pretty quickly," Ford said. "It was one game in the series and you need three to win it. It's 2-2 now and we need focus on Game 5."

The Stingrays grabbed a 1-0 lead on Dylan Yeo's first playoff goal midway through the opening period. The 2009 ECHL defenseman of the year got the puck just outside the blue line, skated past Cincinnati's Brock Sheahan and beat Smith with a wrist shot over his right pad.

The Cyclones tied the game just before the end of the first period, when Barret Ehgoetz redirected Heidinger's shot past South Carolina goalie Todd Ford for the score.

Cincinnati made it a 2-1 game on Ian McKenzie's goal with 5:37 left in the second period.

The Stingrays answered 73 seconds later when Trevor Bruess powered past Doug Krantz and lifted a shot over the shoulder of Smith to tie the game at 2-2 going into the second intermission.

"That's a huge goal by Trevor and got us right back into the game," MacLean said.

The Stingrays had a chance to end the game with two minutes left in regulation with an odd man rush. Trent Campbell fed a cross-ice pass to a wide open Keith Johnson. But Smith came out of his net to cut down the angle and made a beautiful glove save to end the threat.

"That was a huge save by Jeremy," Weber said. "He was aggressive and came out of his crease to challenge the shooter. Great save that got us into overtime."

First Period: 1. SC, Yeo 1 (Keller), 11:21. 2. C, Ehgoetz 2 (Hiedinger, Aubin), 18:58. Penalties: Bruess, SC (tripping), 8:38.

Second Period: 3. C, McKenzie 1 (Ehgoetz, Ortiz), 14:33. 4. SC, Bruess 1 (Huaswirth, Keller), 15:49. Penalties: Heidinger, C (hooking), 16:13.

Third Period: No goals. Penalties: McKenzie, C (elbowing), 9:09; O'Hanley, C (delay of game), 11:14; Kilpatrick, C (roughing), 20:00; K. Johnson, SC (roughing), 20:00.

Overtime: 5. SC, G. Johnson 1 (Keller, Caister), 6:09. Penalties: No penalties.

Shots on Goal: SC 8-10-3-4-25; Cincinnati: 5-9-6-4-24. Penalties: SC 2-4; Cincinnati 4-8. Power Play: SC 0 for 3; Cincinnati 0 for 1. Goalies: SC - Todd Ford (2-2-0) 24 shots, 22 saves. Cincinnati - Jeremy Smith (2-2-0) 25 shots, 22 saves. Att: 2,197.