For the second time this season, defender Ben Finkelstein was at the right place at the right time, scoring in overtime for the Greenville Swamp Rabbits (2-3-0-1) to defeat the South Carolina Stingrays (3-0-2-0) by a 3-2 score on Sunday afternoon at the North Charleston Coliseum.
South Carolina goals were scored by linemates Justin Florek and Andrew Cherniwchan in a losing effort, while goaltender Alex Dubeau turned aside 26 shots in his season debut for the Rays.
SC has now earned points in all five of their first regular season contests.
After a scoreless first period in which the Rays outshot Greenville 10-3, Garrett Thompson broke through for his first goal of the season to give the visitors a 1-0 lead at 5:29 of the middle frame.
Less than two minutes later, Florek tied things up at 1-1 when he drove to the net and scored his second goal of the season unassisted at 6:53.
Early in the third period, SC took their first lead of the afternoon when Cherniwchan converted on the power play at 3:20 to give his team a 2-1 advantage. The first power play goal of the season for the Rays was deflected in by the captain off a pass by forward Caleb Herbert. Forward Brett Supinski recorded the second assist on the play, his first point of the 2020-21 campaign.
But the Swamp Rabbits evened the game back up at 2-2 when Bryan Moore beat Dubeau with a wrist shot at 8:10 of the third.
The game stayed deadlocked until the end of regulation, forcing the two clubs to play overtime hockey for the third time this year.
Although both sides had chances to end it early in the OT period, Finkelstein found the winner at 2:41 of the extra frame, following up a breakaway chance for Liam Pecararo and giving the Swamp Rabbits the 3-2 win.
Greenville goaltender John Lethemon earned the victory with 30 saves in the contest, with SC outshooting the Swamp Rabbits 32-29 overall. The Rays were 1-for-5 on the man-advantage, while Greenville came up empty on the power play at 0-for-4.
South Carolina will return to the upstate to begin 2021, making a trip to face Greenville Friday on New Year’s Day for a 2:05 p.m. puck drop. The Stingrays are back at the North Charleston Coliseum to open a two-game set with the Wheeling Nailers on Friday, January 8 at 7:05 p.m.
You can see the box score here.