STINGRAYS 4, ROAD WARRIORS 1
When Danick Paquette is at his best, the opposition is usually at its worst.
Paquette's brand of physical and irritating hockey was on full display Sunday as the rugged winger scored two goals and Daren Machesney stopped 28 shots to lead South Carolina past Greenville, 4-1, on Sunday afternoon before a crowd of 1,574 at the North Charleston Coliseum.
The Stingrays, winners of four straight, improved to 12-6-1 (25 points) and moved into sole possession of first place in the ECHL's South Division. The Road Warriors fell to 8-7-0 (16 points).
Paquette might be the most hated player in the ECHL, but he's also one of the most popular Stingrays at the North Charleston Coliseum.
His physical, gritty style has endeared him to the Stingrays faithful just two months into the season.
"I don't want the other team to like me," Paquette said. "If they like me, then I'm not doing my job."
The second-year pro was certainly doing his job Sunday afternoon.
After a punishing hit on Greenville's Tim Crowder that sent the Road Warriors forward head first into the penalty box, Paquette dropped the gloves with Sean Berkstresser. Less than eight minutes after getting out of the penalty box, Paquette scored the first of two goals that gave the Stingrays a 2-0 lead at the first intermission.
"We talk a lot about Danick playing with an edge and playing right up to the line, but not crossing it," said Stingrays head coach Spencer Carbery. "When he's playing under control, when he has his emotions under control, he can be a very, very effective player like he was tonight. Other teams don't like to play against him, and that's a good thing.
"Danick is one of the hardest hitters in the league. When he's finishing his checks and he's getting under the skin of the other team, he's a nightmare to play against."
It had been 10 days since Machesney's last start and his last two outings were ones he'd like to forget. Machesney had given up nine goals in his last two games against Gwinnett and Greenville.
"I was really happy that (Carbery) put me back out there," said Machesney, who improved to 3-5-0 on the season. "He showed some confidence in me, and I didn't want to let him or the guys down. I wasn't very good the last couple of games, but I thought I played solid tonight. The guys were good in front of me and really finished the game strong."
The Stingrays jumped to a 2-0 lead on goals from Trent Campbell and Paquette.
Former Stingrays defenseman Jeff Caister scored for the Road Warriors to close the gap to 2-1 going into the final period.
But Paquette knocked in a rebound off a Sean Dolan shot and Chris Higgins got an empty- netter in the final two minutes of play for the final margin of victory.
"I thought we had two pretty good periods and an OK period," Carbery said. "We didn't start out well in the third period, but we got a timeout and everyone regrouped, and I thought we closed out the game pretty well."
--Nick Tabisz and Jerry Pollastrone were healthy scratches.
--The Stingrays are 7-2-0 at home and 4-4-1 on the road this season.
First Period: 1. SC, Campbell 7 (O'Brien, Higgins), 4:48. 2. SC, Paquette 4 (Kroll, Maiani), 15:17. Penalties: Berkstresser, G (fighting), 3:19; Paquette, SC (fighting), 3:19; Reynolds, G (fighting), 14:29; Stewart, SC (fighting), 14:29; Wilson, G (roughing), 18:10; Maiani, SC (roughing), 18:10.
Second Period: 3. G, Caister 1 (Niemi, Berkstresser), 11:57. Penalties: Shields, G (hooking) 2:26; Connolly, G (unsportsmanlike conduct), 9:45; Tarkir, SC (slahsing), 9:55; Connolly, G (roughing), 14:36; Baier, SC (roughing), 14:36. Cunningham, G (tripping), 15:41.
Third Period: 4. SC, Paquette 5 (Dolan, Stewart), 8:25. 5. SC, Higgins 2 (Stewart), 18;23. Penalties: Caister, G (unsportsmanlike conduct, 10-minute misconduct, game misconduct), 10:12.
Shots on Goal: Stingrays 8-9-11-28; Greenville: 11-9-9-29. Penalties: Stingrays 5-16; Greenville 10-42. Power Play: Stingrays: 0 for 4; Greenville 0 for 1. Goalies: Stingrays - Daren Machesney (3-5-0) 29 shots, 28 saves. Greenville - Nick Riopel (8-2-0) 27 shots, 24 saves. Att: 1,547.