Rays will their way to game 3 victory in third period

(Daren Stotlzfus/WCIV)

The South Carolina Stingrays erased three one-goal deficits before breaking through with three straight third period goals to defeat the Manchester Monarchs 5-3 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Monday night at the North Charleston Coliseum.

Defensemen Cody Corbett and Joey Leach each scored their first goals of the playoffs, while Olivier Archambault had a goal and an assist and Kelly Zajac picked up two assists in the Stingrays’ win that trimmed Manchester’s series lead to 2-1.

After Zac Lynch scored on the power play for Manchester at 10:23 of the first period to give the Monarchs a 1-0 lead going into the first intermission, the game went back and forth, with the two teams exchanging goals.

Corbett opened up the second period by scoring 44 seconds into the frame to tie the score at 1-1. The defenseman fired a shot through traffic that beat Manchester netminder Sam Brittain and put the Rays on the board. Assists on the tally went to Archambault and Zajac.

The Monarchs responded at 5:21 of the middle stanza to re-take the lead at 2-1 when Ashton Rome put a backhand shot up high over the glove of Stingrays’ goaltender Parker Milner for an unassisted goal.

Next, it was Leach’s turn to score his first of the postseason and tie the game back up at 2-2 by blasting a shot past Brittain at 8:00 of the second from Corbett and team captain Joe Devin.

The game remained deadlocked at the start of the third period but didn’t stay even for long. Daniel Ciampini put Manchester back in front with a goal at 1:29 of the final frame, giving the Monarchs their third one-goal lead of the game at 3-2.

When South Carolina seemed down and out, killing a penalty for too many men on the ice, it was Archambault and Zajac who found themselves on a short-handed rush and connected for another tying strike. Archambault finished things off with a tap-in for his third goal of the postseason after Zajac found him open at the side of the net. The goal was scored at 4:11 of the third and evened the score at 3-3.

Using the momentum from the short-handed strike, South Carolina surged forward to take their first lead at any point of the series when Steven McParland found a rebound loose in the offensive crease and banged it in to make it 4-3 at 5:52 of the third. Assists on the tally went to defensemen Max Nicastro and Marcus Perrier.

Rob Flick gave the Stingrays some breathing room at 14:02 with his ninth goal of the playoffs, scoring on a blast from the slot with assists by linemates Andrew Cherniwchan and Domenic Monardo to secure the Rays a 5-3 advantage.

The assist gave Cherniwchan a point in eight straight games, dating back to the beginning of the second-round series with Florida.

South Carolina outshot Manchester 16-6 in their three-goal third period and 32-26 in the game. The Monarchs had the edge in special teams play, scoring on two of five power play opportunities, while the Stingrays were 0-for-3 on the man-advantage.

Milner earned the win in net for the Rays, making 23 saves in his ninth victory of the postseason. Brittain took the loss for Manchester, stopping 27 shots.

The best-of-seven series now shifts to Manchester for Game 4 on Friday night at 7 p.m. at the SNHU Arena.

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