Warriors Win Fourth Straight in Season Finale
Greenville, SC - The Greenville Road Warriors (39-29-4), proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and the AHL's Hartford Wolf Pack, concluded the 2014-15 campaign on Saturday with their fourth straight victory in a 5-1 decision against the Gwinnett Gladiators (20-45-7) at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena. Anthony Luciani (1g, 2a) and Vinny Saponari (3a) each registered a three-point night, while Joey Holka scored his first ECHL goal in the final second of regulation.
With the victory, the Road Warriors finished the season with the same amount of wins (39) as the 2013-14 campaign. In addition, Greenville concluded the season 21-14-0 on SANDLAPPER Securities Rink. They ended up missing the 2015 Kelly Cup Playoffs by just two points.
In a penalty-filled opening frame, the Road Warriors struck first on the power play at the 12:22 mark courtesy of Luciani's team-leading 28th goal of the season. With Tyler Shiplo in the box for holding the stick, Chris McCarthy pushed a centering feed to Luciani in the slot for a one-timer that beat goaltender Kent Patterson just inside the right post.
Michael St. Croix made it 2-0 with his second goal in as many games at 15:56 of the second period. From below the goal line, St. Croix collected a rebound and banked a shot off a body in front that redirected past Patterson's left skate. It was St. Croix's 15th goal of the season.
Greenville extended its lead to three with another power-play tally at 7:18 of the final frame. With Zach Sarig in the box for interference, Saponari slipped a pass to Dallas Jackson at the point for a one-time blast through traffic and into the back of the net. Jackson's goal was his fifth of the season, and second in as many games. He ended the season on a four-game point streak.
Things got physical at 8:49 of the third period during a scramble in front of the Greenville net. After the play was blown dead, goaltender Jason Missiaen took exception to Sean Berkstresser and Jason Wilson in his crease and dropped the gloves for the first time this season. Missiaen and Wilson were each given a five-minute fighting major, while Berkstresser got a 10-minute misconduct. Emerson Clark was also given a game misconduct for leaving the bench during an altercation.
The Gladiators only tally came at 11:11 of the third period when Mike Merrifield converted on a 2-on-1 rush created by Tyler Murovich's speed and diagonal feed to the back post. There, Merrifield tapped it home past Missiaen's left leg.
With 2:11 remaining, Gwinnett's head coach Andy Brandt emptied his net for the extra attacker, but it did not pan out. Instead, Ryan Hegarty collected the puck in his own zone and pushed a shot down the ice that missed, but the rebound slid directly to Bretton Cameron for an empty-net goal.
Holka put the cherry on top in the final second of regulation for the 5-1 final. Luciani created the attack by banking the puck off the left boards and into the neutral zone, where Holka collected it, raced the other way and beat Patterson with a forehand shot from the doorstep as time expired.
The Road Warriors finished the game 2-for-4 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill. Missiaen (18-15-3) made 21 saves in the win, while Patterson (9-20-5) stopped 31 shots in the loss.
Greenville outshot Gwinnett 36-22, and finished the season by outshooting its opponents in the last 12 consecutive games.
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