North Charleston, SC – The South Carolina Stingrays battled back from a two goal first period deficit in turning aside the Charlotte Checkers by a final score of 4-2 in game three of their best-of-seven game series; the Rays now trail 2-1 in the series.
“The guys showed an awful lot of mental toughness,” said Assistant Coach Cail MacLean. “I give them all the credit in the world; they knew what they had to do tonight, and they got it down.”
In a game that the Rays wanted nothing more than to come out with a bang for, they found themselves down by two after the first frame. At 10:45 of the first period, Ethan Graham got his third goal in as many playoff games on a low shot from the far-side circle past Jonathan Boutin to make it a 1-0 game. Later in the period, at 14:31, Matt Schepke stepped in front of a pass in the Stingrays zone and came into the all alone pushing a shot by Boutin to make it a 2-0 game. The Rays managed 12 shots a number of solid opportunities, by could not get anything by Jeff Jakaitis and went into the second period down a pair.
The Rays got back on the right track, and fast, in the second period. Just :15 seconds into the period, Spencer Carbery got his first goal of the playoffs from Nikita Kashirsky and Mick Berge. The goal cut the lead in half, and certainly put the momentum on the side of the Rays. With that momentum, they found themselves on the power play just over a minute later, and got their first power play goal of the night before two minutes had ticked off the clock. At 1:49 of the period, Maxime Lacroix tipped in a shot from Zach Tarkir to tie the game at two going into the third period.
The Rays continued their inspired play in the third period as Keith Johnson stepped in front of a pass in the neutral zone, brought it into the zone and fired a shot past Jeff Jakaitis to give the Rays their first lead of the night and their second lead of the series. The goal was unassisted and came at 3:48 of the period. Up 3-2, the Rays were not done as Lacroix got his second goal of the night, pushing the puck past Jaikitis through a pile of bodies in front of the crease. The goal was assisted by Morin and Johnson and gave the Rays a 4-2 lead, the eventual final.
The winning goaltender was Boutin who stopped 18 of the 20 shots he faced. The losing goaltender was Jakaitis who stopped 36 of the 40 shots he faced. The Rays went 1-5 on the power play while killing off all eight short handed situations they faced.
The Rays will play game four right back here at the North Charleston Coliseum, same bat time same bat channel. Game time will be at 7:05. If you can’t make it out to the game, you can catch all the action by tuning in to Sports Radio 1450 with the Benitos Pre-game show beginning at 6:50.
Charlotte Checkers 2 at South Carolina Stingrays 4 - Status: Final
Apr 14, 2009 - North Charleston Coliseum