Stingrays drop OT thrillers in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, FLA – The South Carolina Stingrays (9-8-5-0) were never stuck during regulation, but a power play goal in overtime from Nick Saracino gave the Jacksonville Icemen (8-9-1-1) the upper hand The opening game ended 3-2 on Friday evening at the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena.

Striker Cole Ully returned to the line-up scoring both goals for South Carolina, while netminder Sean Bonar stopped 23 shots in one defeat.

Both clubs had good chances in the first 20 minutes, but neither the Stingrays nor the Icemen found the end point in the opening phase. Only one penalty came in the frame, but Jacksonville wouldn’t convert to their man’s advantage, leaving both teams goalless.

Ully buried his sixth goal of the year at 6:04 a.m. in the middle frame, with Max Novak receiving his 13th assist to give the Stingrays a 1-0 lead.

Jacksonville linked it late in the period with a second try by Ara Nazarian, who got past Bonar at 5:49 PM, and scored the 1-1 before the end of the second.

After a Jacksonville penalty at 7:51 a.m. of the third half, Ully would draw another tally behind Icemen’s goalkeeper Kyle Keyser to give the Stingrays a 2-1 lead at 9:38 a.m. of the closing verse. The assists for the goal came from striker Dan DeSalvo and defender Zach Malatesta.

But South Carolina was unable to hold the lead as long as Craig Martin tied the Icemen home at 1:54 p.m. and returned the game to 2-2 with limited time on the clock.

The two teams fought in overtime and with a Blake Hillman in the box from a penalty kick at the end of regulation, Jacksonville wasted little time in a 3-2 victory. Nick Saracino buried the game winner just 23 seconds after the OT phase began.

Keyser turned aside 21 shots in victory for the Icemen. Both teams convert once in the power play of the fight, with South Carolina 1: 2 and Jacksonville 1: 3 ending up on the man advantage. The Icemen left the Stingrays 26-23 behind in the competition.

The two teams will be back in action at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville on Saturday night for a rematch at 7 p.m.

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