On a night that saw fans in North Charleston donate 11,754 stuffed animals, the South Carolina Stingrays (18-2-3-0) shut out the Greenville Swamp Rabbits (12-13-0-1) 3-0 on Saturday at the North Charleston Coliseum behind another spectacular defensive effort.
Goaltender Parker Milner earned his league-leading fifth shutout by stopping all 16 shots he faced while Dylan Steman brought the teddy bears to the ice by scoring his third goal of the year just 2:13 into the game. Linemates Mark Cooper and Dan DeSalvo each had two points in the victory.
The Stingrays continue to lead the South Division standings through 23 games with 39 points and a winning percentage of 0.848.
Steman scored off a centering feed from the right corner of the Greenville zone on South Carolina’s second shot of the game and Rays fans responded in full force, breaking the club’s former record for most stuffed animals collected that they set last season (8,750).
Assists on the goal went to defenseman Jordan Klimek as well as forward Tim Harrison, who has earned three points in the team’s first two games this weekend.
Defenseman Dylan Zink added to South Carolina’s lead at 4:19 of the middle period, scoring his first as a member of the Stingrays from DeSalvo and Cooper. The blueliner let a blast go from the left point that went through traffic and beat Greenville netminder Jeremy Helvig to make it 2-0.
Later in the frame, Cooper capped off a beautiful passing play by scoring his 10th goal of the season from DeSalvo and forward Max Novak at 11:59. Novak gained control of the puck in the left corner of the offensive zone and quickly moved it behind the net to DeSalvo, who centered it in the slot for Cooper’s one timer that made it 3-0 Stingrays.
With a lead in the third, South Carolina’s league-leading defense took over once again and allowed just six shots on goal from the Swamp Rabbits in the final period. In total, SC outshot Greenville 36-16 in the game.
Both teams came up empty on the power play, each finishing 0-for-2. Despite the loss, Helvig kept his team in the game by stopping 33 shot attempts.
South Carolina closes out their weekend Sunday with a matinee against the Jacksonville Icemen inside the North Charleston Coliseum at 3:05 p.m.