INDIAN TRAIL, N.C. – There’s no place like the road.
Spencer Carbery (pictured) had a goal and an assist and Brad Farynuk added two assists to lead South Carolina past Charlotte, 4-3, to clinch the South Division semifinal series before a crowd of 959 at the Extreme Ice Center.
The Stingrays, who lost the first two games of the series on the road to the Checkers, rallied for four straight victories to win the best-of-seven series in six games.
The Stingrays will take on Florida in the best-of-seven South Division final beginning Friday night in Estero, Fla. The Everblades beat Gwinnett in five games in their South Division semifinal matchup.
The Stingrays were 6-6 against the Everblades.
Going into Sunday night’s game, the Stingrays were 0-10 on the road in the playoffs and had not won a game away from the North Charleston Coliseum during the postseason since 2005.
“You can’t compare what happened to us last year on the road in the playoffs to what has happened to us this year,” said South Carolina Stingrays head coach Jared Bednar. “This is a new team and they haven’t gone through it. This team has confidence we can win on the road. We’ve done it all season. We lost the first two games (in Charlotte) because we were our own worst enemy.
“We’ve done a good job of staying out of the penalty box the last four games and its no coincidence that we won all four games. Our discipline got better as the series went on.”
South Carolina extended its advantage to 2-0 on Jeff Corey‘s second goal of the series. The Stingrays got an odd man rush and Trent Campbell slid the puck cross-ice to Corey, who one-timed it past Charlotte goalie Jeff Jakaitis for the score with 5:34 left in the first period.
“We built some momentum in the first period with those two goals,” Bednar said. “Give Charlotte credit because they fought back hard. But we responded and that’s why we were able to win this game.”
The Checkers closed the gap to 2-1 on Jeff Miles power-play goal three minutes into the second period.
But the Stingrays answered less than 30 seconds later on Matt Scherer‘s fourth goal of the series to give South Carolina a 3-1 advantage.
Sixty-four seconds into the third period, the Checker closed the gap to 3-2 on Peter Tsimikalis‘ goal.
The Stingrays, again, answered almost immediately when Carbery blasted a shot past Jakaitis for the score just 90 seconds after Tsimikalis’ goal.
“That line of Scherer, Carbery and (Nikita) Kashirsky continues to play well in the playoffs,” Bednar said. “Matt and Spencer both got really timely goals that gave us a lot of confidence on the bench. Charlotte was really pouring on the pressure and Matt and Spencer were able to score and keep us in the game. Those goals were huge for us.”
Charlotte’s Michel Leveille got the Checkers within 4-3 on his tap-in with 12:49 left in regulation.
The Checkers got a final chance to tie the game on the power play in the final three minutes of the game, but didn’t get a quality scoring chance.
“Those last eight or nine minutes of the third period were the longest of my life,” Bednar said.