South Carolina Stingrays blank Greenville Swamp Rabbits, 6-0
There’s no place like home. Just ask the South Carolina Stingrays.
Putting Games 1 and 2 up in Greenville firmly in their collective rear view mirrors, the Stingrays played not only their best game of their Kelly Cup series with the Swamp Rabbits, but probably the best game of the entire season.
Rob Flick recorded a hat trick and Parker Milner stopped all 25 shots he faced as the Stingrays cruised to a 6-0 victory over the Swamp Rabbits in Game 3 of their Kelly Cup Playoff series Monday night at the North Charleston Coliseum.
The Swamp Rabbits, who won easily Games 1 and 2 up in Greenville, still lead the best-of-seven South Division semifinal series 2-1 headed into Game 4 Tuesday night at the North Charleston Coliseum.
It was a complete turnaround for the Stingrays, who were badly outplayed in the first two games of the series getting outscored, 10-4.
“This was a big bounceback game for our guys, and it might have been our best game of the whole entire year,” said Stingrays coach Ryan Warsofsky. “I thought we came out and played our game from the drop of the puck, and that was the most important thing.”
South Carolina outshot Greenville 44-25, and that didn’t even reflect the dominance of the Stingrays for the 60 minutes.
It was the Swamp Rabbits who looked sluggish and out of sync all night.
“Everyone was really excited about this game,” said Stingrays captain Joe Devin. “We knew it was a big game. We picked up the intensity level and we were harder on pucks. We didn’t want to go down 3-0 to these guys.”
The Swamp Rabbits had no answer for Flick.
“Rob uses his body and his big frame, and he got to the front of the net and was able to capitalize on some chances,” Warsofsky said. “He’s a dangerous player in this league, especially when he’s moving his feet and getting to the net. He had a big game, and he said something to me this morning about having a good night, and he had that look in his eye.”
The Stingrays killed off nine Greenville power plays, including two four-minute penalties and a 5-on-3 for the Swamp Rabbits.
The Swamp Rabbits were 2 of 6 on the man advantage in Greenville in the first two games, but the Stingrays never let them get comfortable on the power play Monday night.
“Anytime you get a four-minute penalty kill, it normally is a backbreaker, let alone two and a 5 on 3,” Devin said. “I thought our forwards, the defensemen and Parker Milner all did a great job tonight.”
Warsofsky said the Stingrays’ special teams, which also had a power play, were the difference in the game.
“Greenville has a really dangerous power play, and we looked at some things on video and made some adjustments,” Warsofsky said. “But the adjustments don’t matter unless we’re working hard and playing the right way, which we did tonight. We blocked some shots, we had good sticks in passing lanes.”
In a six-goal outburst, a shutout from a goalie can be overlooked.
“Honestly, I think Parker has played well every game,” Devin said. “In Games 1 and 2, we we really didn’t help him out too much. We kind of got left out to dry a few times, but he’s been great and was great again tonight.”
First star: Flick, Stingrays. Had his second hat trick of the season and his first in the playoffs. None of Flick’s goals would make a highlight reel, but all three were around the net where Flick could use his size and strength.
“He was a man among boys tonight,” Warsofsky said.
Second star: Devin, Stingrays. The captain set the tone for the game and the rest of the team followed. Devin had a goal and an assist.
“Joe’s a guy who leads by example,” Warsofsky said. “He came out, got in on the forecheck and got us going in both ends of the ice.”
Third star: Milner, Stingrays. Milner was tested very often, making 25 saves, but had four glove stops in the second period that kept the Swamp Rabbits off the scoreboard.
South Carolina and Greenville return for Game 4 of their best-of-seven series Tuesday at the North Charleston Coliseum beginning at 7:05 p.m.
Game 5 of the series will shift back to the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville on Friday beginning at 7 p.m.