Five different goal scorers lit the lamp for the South Carolina Stingrays (2-0-0-0) in a 5-3 win over the Atlanta Gladiators (0-1-0-0) Friday night at the Infinite Energy Center.
In the Rays’ first appearance in Duluth since last year’s playoff clinching win on the final day of the season, goaltender Logan Thompson made 23 saves to earn his first victory of the season in his first appearance for South Carolina.
Linemates Casey Bailey and Cole Ully each tallied a goal and an assist to lead the way for the Stingrays, while Andrew Cherniwchan, Dylan Steman and Ed Wittchow all netted their first goals of the year.
Bailey scored for the second time in as many games to open the scoring at 4:20 of the first period and put SC ahead 1-0. The attacker grabbed a loose rebound after a shot from the right point by defenseman Jaynen Rissling and quickly wristed it past Atlanta goaltender Sean Bonar. Ully also picked up an assist on the first goal of the night.
Then it was Ully who found the net later in the frame, also on a rebound in front of the net. This time it was Bailey who had the initial shot before Ully backhanded the puck into the yawning cage. Forward Matthew Weis earned the second assist on the tally, which was scored at 12:40 of the period.
Atlanta cut the lead down to 2-1 when Joona Koppanen scored the team’s first goal of the 2019-20 season with 10 seconds left in the first period.
The Gladiators then tied the game at 2-2 late in the second on a goal by Nick Bligh at 18:02.
But South Carolina came out of the gate hot in the third and re-took the lead when Cherniwchan scored at 3:49 of the final frame. The Hinton, Alberta native used a backhand shot to beat Bonar up high to put SC back on top 3-2 with assists from forward Dan DeSalvo and defender Tom Parisi.
Then Dylan Steman took a pass from Jonathan Charbonneau and fired a shot to the back of the net to make it 4-2 at 7:35 of the third. With the second assist on the play, forward Max Novak recorded his first point as a member of the Rays.
Atlanta got back to within one with less than three minutes to play when Scott Conway scored at 17:11.
South Carolina sealed their second victory of the season in the final minute with an empty net goal by Wittchow, who grabbed a loose puck in his own zone and skated it to the red line before throwing it into the open cage. Tariq Hammond had the lone assist on the final tally of the contest.
Neither team was able to score on a power play opportunity, each finishing 0-for-3 in the game on the man-advantage. For the second straight game, South Carolina totaled 35 shots on net, while Atlanta managed 26. Bonar made 30 saves in a losing effort for the Glads.
The Stingrays open their home schedule in North Charleston against Orlando on Saturday at 6:05 p.m.