The South Carolina Stingrays (43-11-3-1) earned their sixth straight road win Sunday afternoon by scoring six times to defeat the Maine Mariners (32-24-2-1) by a final score of 6-4 at the Cross Insurance Arena.
Forward Steve Whitney led the way with three points in the contest on two goals and an assist, while six other South Carolina skaters registered multi-point games and goaltender Parker Milner stopped 26 shots to claim his 20th win of the season.
With the victory, South Carolina became the first ECHL team to reach 90 points this season. The club remains three points ahead of the Florida Everblades for first place in the South Division with 14 games remaining in the 2019-20 regular season.
Other multi-point scorers for the Stingrays included forwards Andrew Cherniwchan, Tim Harrison, Alec Marsh and Matthew Weis who each had a goal and an assist, as well as defenders Jesse Lees and Jaynen Rissling who both collected two assists.
Whitney put the Stingrays ahead first with a snapshot from the top of the left circle that beat Maine netminder Connor LaCouvee at 15:04 of the opening period off a pass from Weis. Forward Cole Ully had the second assist on the first strike of the game.
The Mariners tied things up at 1-1 just 2:30 later when Michael McNicholas got behind the Rays’ defense and beat Milner.
But with Whitney in the penalty box as the first was about to end, Cherniwchan moved up the ice while SC was shorthanded and got all the way to the net before leaving the puck off to Harrison who had an open net to knock home his ninth goal of the season. The tally came at 19:14 of the opening frame and had the Rays ahead 2-1 at the game’s first intermission.
Maine tied the game up at 2-2 with a power play goal just 21 seconds into the second period on a net-front deflection by Terrence Wallin.
Then Marsh put South Carolina back in front at 3-2 when he found a rebound in front off a shot by Lees at 3:05 of the middle frame. Harrison was credited with the second assist on the play, moving within one point of his previous career-high of 19 that he set last season.
The Mariners scored their third goal of the game at 8:32 of the second to even things up at 3-3 on a shot by Dillan Fox.
During South Carolina’s first power play opportunity of the day, Weis got the Rays back on top at 4-3, burying a rebound at the side of the Mariners’ net. Lees and Whitney were credited with assists on the tally at 10:52.
21 seconds later, however, Andrew Sturtz got Maine on the board to even things up once again at 4-4. The equalizer came at 11:13, but that was the final time the Mariners would put a puck past Milner, who kept everything in front of him for the remainder of the contest.
Before the end of the period, Whitney gave the Rays a 5-4 lead with his second goal of the game at 16:21. The tally turned out to be the game-winner for the Boston native who used a wrist shot from the slot to beat LaCouvee over the glove with assists from both Marsh and Rissling. Whitney has now posted points in all five of his games with SC this season (5g, 4a).
Cherniwchan gave SC insurance with the only goal of the final stanza to make it 6-4. While the Rays were on the man-advantage, Cherniwchan knocked home a pass from Rissling for his team-leading 28th goal of the year. Defenseman Kristofers Bindulis was credited with the second assist on the final goal of the afternoon.
The Stingrays held a slim one shot advantage in the contest over the Mariners at 31-30. Both teams finished 2-for-3 on the man-advantage while LaCouvee suffered the loss despite making 25 saves.
South Carolina will make their way west this week for a 3-game road series against the Idaho Steelheads. The action begins on Wednesday night at 9:10 p.m. EST.