- Joe Shetrom, South Carolina Stingrays
North Charleston, SC – In a game that looked nothing at all like the one that preceded it, the South Carolina Stingrays won a defensive battle against the Cincinnati Cyclones in game two, winning 3-1 and taking a 2-0 series lead.
"This was definitely more like the game we were looking for," said Assistant Coach Cail MacLean. "Our defense played really well and the effort was there the entire time."
The Cincinnati Cyclones struck first in game two when they took advantage of a turn-over in the neutral zone. Matt Macdonald found himself all alone in the far side circle and fired a bullet past goalie Jonathan Boutin to make it 1-0 at 3:55. The Rays would respond later in the period as Michael Dubuc continued lighting the lamp for the Rays. At 9:06, Nikita Kashirsky fired a pass from the near side corner into the slot where Dubuc one-timed it past Loic Lacasse to tie the game up at one. The goal was Dubuc's fourth of the playoffs and was assisted by Kashirsky and Spencer Carbery.
The second period featured suffocating defense by the Rays, and it showed, as even with two power plays, the Cyclones were only able to get three shots on goal in the period. The Rays on the other hand had a number of shots, 13, and a number of chances, but found Lacasse a tough man to beat. They were, however, able to slip one by him during the period and take the lead, their first of the night. After Brad Farynuk cleared the puck from the zone off the far side boards, Maxime Lacroix grabbed it and skated it into the zone. With plenty of room around him, he picked his spot from the far side circle and buried a shot past Lacasse for the only goal of the period.
The defensive battle continued in the third period as the Rays fought to preserve their lead while Cincinnati fought to tie things up. In the end, it would be the Rays winning that battle as Boutin stopped six shots in the period and Trent Campbell found the back of the net on an empty net goal. The goal came with just :09 seconds left and was assisted by Patrick Wellar and Johann Kroll.
The winning goaltender was Boutin who stopped 18 of the 19 shots he faced. The losing goaltender was Lacasse who stopped 41 of the 43 shots he faced. The Rays went 0-1 on the power play while Cincinnati went 0-3.
The Rays will be back in action on Wednesday night when they travel to the Queen City to take on the Cincinnati Cyclones at US Bank Arena with a hope of taking a commanding 3-0 series lead. Game time will be at 7:30. You can tune in to Sports Radio 1450 for all the action with the Benitos Pre-game show beginning at 6:50. Don't forget to head out to Centre Pointe Bar Grill to watch the Rays live will all of your Stingrays friends.