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Tides Turn As South Carolina Leapfrogs Savannah

Tides Turn As South Carolina Leapfrogs Savannah

SAVANNAH, GA – Michael Kim finished off a short-handed breakaway 8:50 seconds into the third period with a backhand shot lifted over Darion Hanson’s shoulder. That tally would end up being the game-winning goal in a 5-3 victory for the South Carolina Stingrays. Earlier in the matchup, the Savannah ghost Pirates had a 3-1 lead early in the second. So, how did Savannah drop this game despite the early lead?

Surprisingly, the battle between these two high-scoring clubs did not offer too many shots on goal in the early goings of the first period. Bear Hughes broke the scoring on his second shot of the night with a cheeky wrister from an unexpected angle on the right side of the offensive zone that caught Savannah by surprise. Savannah calmed things down after that play and kept South Carolina from most dangerous opportunities for the remainder of the first; while adding two scores themselves. 

Westin Michaud, who has picked up where he left off before his IR stint, has continued to be a catalyst for this Savannah offense as he tallied a score off of a pass from Henderson Silver Knight product Peter DiLiberatore. Then, in the closing seconds of the first, Brent Pedersen found himself the recipient of a Savannah power-play goal that careened off multiple bodies as it juggled its way to the back of the net. Showing that one of the stressing points from Savannah, putting pucks on the net with their power-play opportunities, is starting to pay off. 

The first period was also littered with penalty minutes, with a total of 18 taken. This total includes a fighting major for both Daniel D’Amato and Chaz Reddekopp.

Reddekopp had taken offense to a hit D’amato had given on a back check earlier which bordered right on the positive side of a clean hit, but leveled Reddekop’s teammate. D’amato, who is not typically known for his fighting prowess on the ice, was shown great respect from his teammates after that scrum. There was some pushing and shoving after the whistle to end the first, which had the match shaping up to be a chippy battle. DiLiberatore was assessed a penalty to begin the second for that, but the rest of the period ended up playing smoothly, with no more penalties following in the period. 

It was obvious that Savannah was feeling fairly good about themselves early in the second as they added a Connor Corcoran tap-in goal directly after they killed off their 20th penalty in a row. The primary assist on that tap came from D’Amato, playing as a man possessed.

It was not until the midpoint of the second that the winds began to change for these two teams as South Carolina knocked away two goals in quick succession to go from a 3-1 deficit to a 3-3 tie. Carter Turnbull and Hughes were the beneficiaries of the goals, with only 2 minutes and 12 seconds separating them. The latter goal came off a defensive zone clear that Savannah could not get out as it bounced off the boards and right onto Hughes’s stick before he buried the shot. 

Now, we go back to the game-winning goal. Kim’s breakaway short-handed goal was the third unanswered score from South Carolina and the eventual game-winner. The Ghost Pirates, accustomed to late-game heroics (like yesterday’s Pedersen goal with just 8.5 seconds left, sending them to overtime against the Everblades), looked as if they might have it in them again as DiLiberatore’s shot rang the goal light. After a lengthy huddle from the men in black and white, the call was upheld. No goal.

One last opportunity came knocking for Patrick Guay, but a very rare open net whiff by him sent the puck behind the net. 

South Carolina added one last insurance goal in the form of a Kevin O’Neil empty netter to adjust the night’s final score to 5-3 for South Carolina. 

The final result brought Savannah’s overall record to 5-2-1, dropping them to second in the South Division. Meanwhile, South Carolina leapfrogged up to first in the division with a record of 6-2-0.

Savannah will look to right the ship as they travel to Atlanta to face the Gladiators on Sunday. South Carolina will soak up their win with a long weekend as they do not play again until Tuesday, November 15, when they travel to Orlando. 

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