NORTH CHARLESTON, SC- The South Carolina Stingrays had struggled on the power play in their first eight games, but on Saturday night, it was one of their biggest weapons. Cole Ully's power play goal snapped a tie game in the second period and was the first of three South Carolina power play strikes, as the Stingrays knocked off the Wheeling Nailers, 6-3 at North Charleston Coliseum.
The first period saw a little bit of everything, as both teams scored twice and there was also a big scuffle. The Stingrays needed just 56 seconds to open the scoring, as Darien Craighead finished off a two-on-one rush with Justin Florek. Wheeling rebounded a little less than four minutes later, as Shane Kuzmeski led Matt Alfaro in on the right side of the offensive zone. Alfaro drove to the net, and ripped a shot in on the left side of the goal. Patrick Watling put the Nailers ahead 4:03 after that, when he poked the puck away from a South Carolina defender and squeezed a backhander through Alex Dubeau's legs. Mason Morelli tied the tilt at two with 4:07 remaining, as he dunked in a pass from Caleb Herbert on the right side of the crease.
Wheeling ran into penalty trouble in the middle of the second period and the Stingrays cashed in with a power play goal at the 13:26 mark. Cole Ully dragged the puck around at the left face-off dot to establish some extra space, which he utilized to ring a shot just inside of the right post. South Carolina upped its advantage to two a few minutes later, when Ully forced a turnover, which led to a quick passing play, in which Max Novak setup Herbert for a chip shot at the top of the crease.
The Stingrays added to their lead with a power play strike early in the third. Herbert had his left circle shot stopped, but Dylan Steman pounded in the rebound. Cody Sylvester brought the Nailers to within two thanks to a snipe on a two-on-one break from the left circle, but Steman's second of the period into an empty night put the finishing touches on South Carolina's 6-3 win.
Alex Dubeau backstopped the victory for the Stingrays, as he stopped 28 of the 31 shots he faced. Shane Starrett made 27 saves on 32 shots in the loss for Wheeling.
The Nailers will play two more games on the road next weekend, when they visit the Indy Fuel on Friday and Saturday, with both matches starting at 7:05. Wheeling will then play three straight games at home, all against the South Carolina Stingrays on January 22nd, 23rd, and 24th. The Friday and Saturday games start at 7:10, while puck drop on Sunday takes place at 4:10. A limited amount of tickets are available for those games, and season tickets and flex packages are also available. To purchase yours or to get more information, visit wheelingnailers.com or call (304) 234-GOAL. The Wheeling Nailers, considered one of the top things to do in Wheeling, West Virginia, provide affordable family entertainment for fans throughout the Ohio Valley.