The South Carolina Stingrays (9-8-5-0) never trailed during regulation, but a power play goal in overtime from Nick Saracino gave the Jacksonville Icemen (8-9-1-1) the upper hand at the end of Friday night’s series opener at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena by a score of 3-2.
Forward Cole Ully made his return to the lineup and scored both goals for South Carolina, while netminder Sean Bonar stopped 23 shots in a losing effort.
The first 20 minutes saw good chances from both clubs, but neither the Rays nor the Icemen found the back of the net in the opening period. Only one penalty came in the frame, but Jacksonville would not convert on their man advantage, leaving both teams scoreless.
Ully buried his sixth goal of the year at 6:04 of the middle frame, with Max Novak earning his 13th assist to lift the Stingrays to a 1-0 lead.
Jacksonville tied it up late in the period on an Ara Nazarian second-effort tap-in past Bonar at 17:49, evening the score at 1-1 before the end of the second.
Following a Jacksonville penalty at 7:51 of the third, Ully would blast another tally past Icemen goaltender Kyle Keyser to give the Stingrays a 2-1 lead at 9:38 of the closing stanza. The assists on the goal came from forward Dan DeSalvo and defender Zach Malatesta.
But SC was unable to hold the lead for long as Craig Martin deflected home a tying goal for the Icemen at 13:54, knotting the game back up at 2-2 with limited time on the clock.
The two squads found themselves battling in overtime, and with a Blake Hillman in the penalty box after a penalty at the end of regulation, Jacksonville wasted little time claiming a 3-2 victory. Nick Saracino buried the game-winner just 23 seconds into the OT period.
Keyser turned aside 21 shots in the victory for the Icemen. Both teams convert once on the power play in the clash, with SC finishing 1-for-2 and Jacksonville ending at 1-for-3 on the man-advantage. The Icemen outshot the Stingrays 26-23 in the contest.
The two teams are back in action once again on Saturday night in Jacksonville at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena for a rematch at 7 p.m.
You can view the BOX SCORE here.