Three goals by defensemen in the opening period gave the South Carolina Stingrays (30-5-3-1) an early lead and helped the team to a 4-2 win over the Atlanta Gladiators (17-21-0-0) in front of 6,705 fans on Saturday night at the North Charleston Coliseum.
Blueliner Tom Parisi netted two of the first period tallies for South Carolina, while Max Novak had two assists and goaltender Parker Milner made 36 saves to pick up his 13th victory of the season.
The Stingrays became the first ECHL team to reach 30 wins in the standings during the 2019-20 season. South Carolina is the top team in the league with a winning percentage of 0.821.
It took just 19 seconds for the Rays to grab the lead in the opening period. After a face-off in the offensive zone that was won by Dan DeSalvo, Novak sent the puck to Parisi who moved in on the right wing and beat goaltender Chris Nell with a quick shot to make it 1-0.
SC extended their advantage at 7:46 of the first when defenseman Dylan Zink netted his third goal of the season from forward Tim Harrison and Matt Nuttle. Zink got out on the rush on the left wing and moved toward the net before letting a shot go from the left circle that beat Nell over his right shoulder to make it 2-0 in favor of the Rays.
Parisi’s second strike came at 12:57 of the first off a drop pass by forward Mark Cooper. The blueliner’s ninth goal of the season also had a second assist from Novak and made the score 3-0.
Atlanta got on the board before the end of the opening frame when Avery Peterson snuck a rebound past the pad of Milner to make it 3-1 at 16:20.
After a scoreless second period, the Gladiators got within one goal at 1:04 of the third on a breakaway tally by Logan Nelson that made it 3-2.
With the Gladiators threatening on a power play late in the game, Andrew Cherniwchan grabbed hold of a loose puck in the neutral zone and went in alone on a breakaway. He then made a quick move to the backhand and put the puck up high over Nell and into the net to make it 4-2 at 17:04 of the third.
The two teams held each other scoreless on the power play, with Atlanta finishing 0-for-4 and South Carolina ending at 0-for-6. The Gladiators outshot the Stingrays 38-34 in the contest. Nell took the loss for Atlanta, stopping 30 shots.
South Carolina is back in action on Sunday afternoon when they battle the Orlando Solar Bears at the North Charleston Coliseum at 3:05 p.m.