An overturned call in a shootout pushed the South Carolina Stingrays (40-10-3-1) past the Atlanta Gladiators (23-28-1-2) for the seventh time this season and gave the club their 40th win of the 2019-20 year in front of 8,291 fans during Star Wars Night at the North Charleston Coliseum on Saturday.
Team captain Andrew Cherniwchan had the winner in the shootout and also scored in regulation for the seventh consecutive game while forward Cam Askew picked up three assists and goaltender Parker Milner stopped 40 shots, including a penalty shot in overtime to earn his 19th win.
South Carolina leads all ECHL teams in the league standings with 84 points and an overall points percentage of 0.778.
The win did not come without controversy, however, as Cherniwchan’s shootout winner was initially ruled no goal on the ice. It was later changed to a good goal after the game’s officials consulted video review.
Atlanta scored the first goal of the game on a shot by Scott Conway take a lead at 17:50 of the opening period, but the advantage was short-lived as South Carolina responded 16 seconds later.
Forward Alec Marsh, who scored his first ECHL goal in the first period of Tuesday night’s win over Greenville, netted his second in as many games with the Rays from Askew and Scott Davidson during a net-mouth scramble at 18:06 of the first to even the game at 1-1.
Just 2:03 into the middle frame, Tim Harrison scored his eighth tally of the year to make it 2-1 SC with an assist from Askew after a turnover by the Gladiators in their own zone.
Cherniwchan pushed the advantage to 3-1 while the Rays were on the power play by slipping the puck past goaltender Chris Nell at 3:32 of the second. The lone assist went to Askew for his third helper of the night.
Tommy Marchin got Atlanta back within one goal at 6:47 of the middle period, but Cole Ully gave South Carolina some breathing room with his 11th of the year at 10:18. Ully’s strike came at the side of the net off a setup by Matthew Weis and Steve Whitney and made it 4-2 Stingrays.
The Gladiators scored twice in the third period to tie the game back up at 4-4 and force overtime. Goals went to Sam Asselin at 6:37 as well as Zach Malatesta at 11:36 of the final frame.
Milner kept the game going when he was called on to stop a penalty shot during the extra session, denying Asselin just 35 seconds into the OT period.
The teams continued to trade chances in the extra session but were forced to decide things in a shootout. Cherniwchan’s goal was the only strike of the skill display, with Milner going 3-for-3 on the other end to secure the victory.
Atlanta had the edge in shots on goal by a single attempt, finishing with 44 chances while South Carolina had 43 shots on net. The Gladiators finished 2-for-7 on the power play, while the Stingrays ended at 1-for-6 on the man-advantage. Nell turned aside 38 shots for Atlanta in a losing effort.
The Stingrays host the Worcester Railers at the North Charleston Coliseum on Sunday afternoon at 3:05 p.m.