BY: Ray Schmitt, Voice of the Greenville Road Warriors
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC – The Greenville Road Warriors picked up their fifth win of the season over the South Carolina Stingrays on Sunday with a 4-3 overtime triumph. The win improved Greenville to 15-8-1 on the season.
Marc-Olivier Vallerand didn’t allow for much suspense when it came to wondering whether he would extend his team-high seven game point streak to eight. In the first period he tallied a pair of goals as the Road Warriors grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first. The first came in a two-on-one with Brendan Connolly where Vallerand’s pass to Connolly was blocked back to him and he rifled a shot past Philipp Grubauer. Vallerand scored a similar goal shorthanded 1:59 later to stretch Greenville’s lead to 2-0. Nic Riopel, making his first start in five games turned aside all 13 shots that he faced.
In the second period the Road Warriors and Stingrays traded goals and, ultimately, Greenville retained its two-goal lead. Sean Dolan tipped a shot from Paul Baier through Riopel’s pads for South Carolina‘s first of the game at 10:11 of the second. But before the Stingrays could build on the momentum, defenseman Francis Meilleur scored his first professional goal with a shot from the point a minute and 40 seconds after Dolan’s goal. Vallerand continued his big night by earning the primary assist while Connolly picked up his second of the game. Greenville had a healthy 12-7 shot advantage in the period.
South Carolina refused to go away quietly in the third period and with constant pressure was able to erase the Road Warriors’ two-goal lead. The first came from Joe Pereira who took a hard outlet pass from Dustin Stevenson and skated down the right wing all the way behind the Road Warriors’ net. His wraparound shot snuck underneath Riopel at the 2:05 mark to pull South Carolina within one. Greenville nearly shut things down from there, but with Grubauer pulled for the extra attacker, Danick Paquette jammed a shot past Riopel out of a pile with 54 seconds to play and sent the game to overtime.
Brendan Connolly had picked up a tripping minor late in the third and 1:42 of the penalty time transferred to overtime. But the Road Warriors killed it off and just as the penalty expired, Lee Baldwin picked up a loose puck at center, raced in behind the Stingrays’ defense and blistered a shot past Grubauer for the game winner. It was Baldwin’s third of the season.
Riopel earned his 11th win of the season with 37 saves. Greenville was 0-for-4 on the power play and 6-for-7 on the penalty kill.
Mark your calendars! The Road Warriors return home to face the Reading Royals on Thursday, December 22 at 7:35 p.m. at the BI-LO Center. Come out for the Road Warriors’ Throwback Thursday brought to you by WSSL 100.5, The Greenville News, and New Rock 93.3. On Throwback Thursdays fans get draft beers, fountain drinks, hot dogs, and pretzels for just $2! College students can purchase tickets for $6 with a valid ID. You can also save on your tickets by bringing out a group of 10 or more! The Road Warriors offer discounts off the box office price and preferred seating based on availability to groups who book in advance. Call 864-674-PUCK (7825) for more info or to book your group.