Mitchell Scores Twice in First Game of Season with Stingrays
By: Stingrays Media
The Atlanta Gladiators (26-25-7-2) came back from down three goals and earned a victory Wednesday night by winning an 11-round shootout over the South Carolina Stingrays (28-28-5-1) at the Infinite Energy Arena.
Forward Mason Mitchell scored twice in his first game of the season with South Carolina, while forward Tad Kozun added two assists and goaltender Parker Milner stopped 35 shots in 65 minutes before making another nine saves in the shootout.
Mitchell scored the opening goal of the game and gave South Carolina an early 1-0 lead at 16:40. Kozun used a long stretch pass from his own zone to set Mitchell on a break into the Glads' end. Despite being held up on the play, the Calgary, Alberta native was able to chip the puck over Atlanta goaltender Sean Bonar and into the net for his first tally of the year. A second assist on the goal was given to defender Cam Bakker.
In the middle period, forward Jordan Samuels-Thomas made it 2-0 Rays with his fourth goal of the season from Jonathan Charbonneau and Josh Gratton. Samuels-Thomas did most of the work himself, coming from the right corner out in front of the net and after an initial shot was stopped, the Quinnipiac University alum banged his own rebound past the goal line at 9:43.
Mitchell pushed the lead out to 3-0 in favor of South Carolina with his second goal of the game at 14:00 of the second. Once again Kozun led the attacker with a perfect pass, this time from the left wall to the top of the circle and Mitchell was alone in front of Bonar. The forward deked to his backhand and slipped the puck through the legs of the goaltender for the strike. The second assist on the play went to Bakker, his second helper of the night.
But Atlanta wasn't done. The Gladiators got on the board 45 seconds after Mitchell's second goal when Brett McKenzie scored at 14:45 of the second to make it 3-1.
In the third, Matt Lane made it 3-2 and cut Atlanta's deficit to one goal with a tally at 5:35. Seconds later Mitchell took a major penalty for an illegal check to the head, giving the Gladiators a five-minute man-advantage. The Stingrays did well on the penalty kill and allowed limited chances to Atlanta, but lost Mitchell for the remainder of the game.
With less than four minutes remaining in regulation, Nick Bligh tied things at 3-3 and forced overtime by deflecting a shot into the net at 16:37.
South Carolina had the edge in shots on goal 5-2 during the extra five-minute session but were unable to put one past Bonar and the contest continued into a shootout.
Forward Andrew Cherniwchan scored in the first round of the skill session to give the Rays an early lead, but McKenzie kept the Gladiators alive in the third round to continue the game. Milner stopped the next seven attempts by Atlanta but was finally beaten by Alex Overhardt in the 11th round which secured an extra point for the Gladiators in the South Division standings.
Bonar earned the victory for Atlanta, stopping 19 shots in the game before turning aside 10-of-11 attempts in the shootout. The Gladiators had a 39-22 edge in shots on the net during the contest. The Rays held Atlanta to an 0-for-2 mark on the power play, while the Gladiators stayed out of the penalty box in the game, not allowing any man-advantage chances for South Carolina.
The Stingrays return to the North Charleston Coliseum on Friday night to begin a home three-in-three weekend starting with a battle against the Norfolk Admirals at 7:05 p.m. Tickets are on sale now!
Single-game tickets for all games during the 2018-19 season are on sale now at the North Charleston Coliseum Box Office and ticketmaster.com.