By Andrew Miller
The Post and Courier
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – Brad Farynuk (pictured) scratched his head and thought about the question for a moment.
After a long pause, the Stingrays captain couldn’t remember the last time he had a hat trick. Rest assured, the next time the same question is presented to him, he’ll have a quick answer.
Farynuk recorded his first professional hat trick and Travis Morin had a goal and three assists to lead South Carolina past Charlotte, 8-3, Friday in Game 5 of the ECHL South Division playoff series before a crowd of 2,422 at the North Charleston Coliseum.
The Stingrays, who now lead the best-of-seven series, 3-2, can clinch the series with a win in Game 6 on Sunday night at the Extreme Ice Center in Indian Trail, N.C.
Coming into the season, Farynuk had managed just five regular season goals during his professional career.
The 10 goals the Enderby, British Columbia native recorded this season were the most by any Stingrays defenseman and doubled his total output during his previous two seasons in the ECHL.
“I don’t think many people consider me a goal scorer,” Farynuk said. “Maybe that’s going to change. My last hat trick was 14 or 15 years ago when I was playing minor league hockey.”
It might have been the easiest three goals Farynuk had during his career. All three came on the power play and all three were virtual tap-ins for Farynuk.
“I was in the right place at the right time,” Farynuk said. “Travis Morin made two unbelievable passes. Trent Campbell made another great pass. I felt like I was playing with NHL guys tonight on the power play.
The Stingrays power play dominated the game, recording five goals on 10 chances with the man advantage.
“You’ve got to take advantage of your opportunities during the playoffs,” said Morin, who has three goals and seven assists in five playoff games. “We didn’t in the first two games and we have here lately. The guys were moving the puck really well tonight.”
The Stingrays’ discipline, which accounted for 23 power plays in the first two games for the Checkers, was on its best behavior Friday night. The Stingrays skated away from the post-whistle scums and committed just three penalties on the night.
“They’ve got very dangerous skill guys and we put them on the power play too many times in the first two games,” said Stingrays coach Jared Bednar. “We learned a valuable lesson from those first two games. Our discipline was outstanding tonight. The game got a little chippy, Charlotte wanted to play a physical game and there were a lot of scrums after the whistle. We kept our composure and skated away from a lot of those situations.”
The Stingrays added two more goals in the second period from Keith Johnson and Morin.
Farynuk, who had an assist as well during the game, added the final two goals in the third period.