BY: Ray Schmitt, voice of the Greenville Road Warriors
GREENVILLE, SC – The Greenville Road Warriors came from behind for a 2-1 shootout win over the South Carolina Stingrays on Saturday night at the BI-LO Center. The win improved Greenville’s record to 6-5-0 on the season.
The first period was the goalies’ time to shine as Nic Riopel and Philipp Grubauer combined for 16 saves and did not allow for a goal in the frame. Riopel made the best save of the period when he gloved a shot by South Carolina‘s Paul Baier from the left wing near the midway point of the period. Greenville’s best chance came a few minutes later in a 3-on-1 rush but Justin Bowers’ shot from the left wing whistled just out of the reach of Grubauer.
Greenville was able to generate the majority of scoring chances in the second period, but it was a power play goal by South Carolina’s Greg Stewart that broke the scoreless tie. The Stingrays had their best chance of the night to cash in when Stewart was awarded a penalty shot at 14:29. He tried to slip a shot past Riopel low to the blocker side, but the Road Warriors’ goaltender deflected it away. Brandon Wong twice hit the post high to the glove side on Grubauer, but could not convert. With the Stingrays on the power play, Stewart beat Riopel to the blocker side with a shot from the point at 18:11, and South Carolina took that lead into the break.
The third period was a battle of wills between the Road Warriors offense which was battling for the tying goal, and South Carolina’s smothering defense. The Stingrays were relentless and held the Road Warriors without an official shot on goal until the third was 19 minutes old. But in that final minute, with Riopel pulled for the extra attacker, Marc-Olivier Vallerand shuffled a backhanded shot through traffic and past a screened Grubauer. The goal was Vallerand’s fifth of the season with assists going to Connor Shields and Wes Cunningham. With 24 seconds left in the game, South Carolina’s Sean Dolan took a delay of game minor that left Greenville on the power play to begin the overtime frame.
Despite the four-on-three advantage, the Road Warriors couldn’t cash in and had to wait until the shootout to try to claim victory. Grubauer proved tough to beat there too as he denied each of the first three Road Warriors’ shooters. Riopel matched him save-for-save, though, and Justin Bowers finally broke through in the top of the fourth. South Carolina’s Nick Tabisz match the effort to send the shootout to sudden death, but the Road Warriors persevered. Connor Shields and Brett Robinson beat Grubauer while Riopel allowed a goal to Pierre-Luc O’Brien, but stopped Jerry Pollastrone to earn the win.
Riopel stopped 35 shots for his sixth win of the season. Greenville was 0-for-5 on the power play and 3-for-4 on the penalty kill.
Mark your calendars! The Road Warriors return to home ice on Tuesday, November 15 to take on the South Carolina Stingrays at 7:35 p.m. at the BI-LO Center. It’s a Two for Tuesday presented by BI-LO. Road Warriors fans can show their BI-LO BONUSCARD at the Breakaway Honda Box Office at the BI-LO Center to get one free ticket with the purchase of a ticket of equal value. Don’t forget that your group of 10 or more can get discounts off the box office price and preferred seating based on availability by booking in advance. Call 864-674-PUCK (7825) to talk to a Road Warriors representative.