Stingrays Blow by Greenville in Decisive Game 1
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. - Captain Andrew Cherniwchan scored twice in the second period, while forward Max Novak scored his first two goals of the 2021 Kelly Cup Playoffs as the South Carolina Stingrays defeated the Greenville Swamp Rabbits 5-1 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals Wednesday night at the Carolina Ice Palace.
The win gives the Stingrays a 1-0 series lead with Games 2 and 3 set to be played in Greenville at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena on Friday and Saturday, each beginning at 7:05 p.m.
Dylan Steman also had a big night for South Carolina, scoring a goal and an assist, and goaltender Hunter Shepard picked up his fourth win of the postseason by stopping 26 shots.
Novak got the scoring started, netting the first of two SC power play goals at 11:58 of the first from Cole Ully and Justin Florek at 11:58.
Steman extended the lead for the Stingrays to 2-0 at 14:14 of the opening period with his second strike in as many games on a 2-on-1 rush from Mark Cooper and Tariq Hammond.
Cherniwchan pushed the lead out to 3-0 with a power play goal in the middle period, scoring after his slapshot deflected off a Greenville skate in front of the net at 5:37. Assists on the play went to Matthew Weis and Max Gottlieb.
The captain scored again at 13:11, deflecting in a blast from the right point by defender Tyler Nanne to make it 4-0 South Carolina. Steman picked up the second assist on the play for his sixth point of the postseason.
After a goal by Graham Knott got Greenville on the board at 6:26 of the third, Novak sealed the victory with an unassisted empty-net goal at 18:16.
The Stingrays got out to a heavy advantage in shots-on-goal after out-shooting Greenville 15-4 in the first period and ended the game with a 36-27 edge. SC also controlled special teams play, going 2-for-5 on the power play while discarding all three Greenville man-advantages.
Swamp Rabbits' goaltender Ryan Bednard got the start in between the pipes but was pulled after allowing four goals on 23 shots. John Lethemon came on in relief and made 12 saves for Greenville during the final 23:12.
If necessary, the Rays would return home to the Carolina Ice Palace for Games 4 and 5 of the series, which will take place on Monday, June 21 and Wednesday, June 23, each at 7:05 p.m.
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