BY: Ray Schmitt, Voice of the Greenville Road Warriors
For the third time this season the Road Warriors used a late third-period goal to forge a tie before beating South Carolina in extra time. The 2-1 win in a nine-round shootout gave Greenville a 3-2 victory and improved its record to 39-21-5 on the season.
In the face of some heavy pressure by the Greenville offense in the opening period, former Greenville goalie Billy Sauer stood tall and was the main reason the game went into the intermission scoreless. The Road Warriors built a 13-5 shot advantage over the Stingrays and had multiple quality chances. Brandon Wong was stopped by a sprawling Sauer glove save on a shot from the low left wing near the midway point of the period. In the late stages Sean Berkstresser made a quick cut to the middle from the right wing and tried to squeeze a shot five hole, but Sauer’s stick save put the puck safely away from the net. Greenville goalie Jason Missiaen faced a stern test in the final minute of the first as South Carolina registered a pair of quality chances. But he turned in two of his five saves and ensured that Greenville stayed even with South Carolina through the first 20 minutes of play.
A couple of hardworking goals at either end of the ice in the second intermission had the Road Warriors and Stingrays deadlocked at one through 40 minutes of play. The ‘Rays fired the opening salvo when Billy Ryan potted a rebound out of a mass of bodies in front of Missiaen. It was Ryan’s second goal of the season against the Road Warriors and sixth overall. It looked as though South Carolina would take the lead into the break, but late in the stanza Brett Robinson found a streaking Tim Coffman on the left wing and his wrist shot sailed past Sauer for the tying goal with 1:26 to play in the session. Greenville was held scoreless on two power play chances in the session while South Carolina missed on its only try.
In the third period the teams’ defense and goaltending were stellar and perfect except for a span of 1:01 late in the stanza. With T.J. Reynolds off for a high-sticking minor Ryan cashed in his second goal of the nigh off of an odd-man rush to lift South Carolina to a 2-1 lead at 17:25. Back at full strength the Road Warriors turned a rush of their own into a goal just 61 seconds later. Kale Kerbashian collected a pass from Jeff Caister below the left wing circle in Greenville’s end. The rookie proceeded to skate it all the way to the slot in South Carolina’s zone and zip a wrist shot through Sauer to knot the score and send it to overtime.
After a scoreless five minutes of four-on-four play it was down to a shootout for a third straight game to decide the winner. Even a regulation shootout wasn’t enough to produce the victor. After Trent Campbell and Justin Bowers traded goals in the first round Missiaen and Sauer stopped each of the next seven shooters a side. In the bottom of the ninth Francis Meilleur, taking his first shootout attempt of the season, beat Sauer with a wrist shot low to the blocker side and lifted Greenville to victory.
Missiaen stopped 27 shots in the win. Greenville was 0-for-3 on the power play and 3-for-4 on the penalty kill.
Mark your calendars! The Road Warriors return to the BI-LO Center for their next home game on Sunday, March 18 at 4:05 p.m. against the Cincinnati Cyclones. Join the Road Warriors for Family Fun Day. Any child 12 years old or younger can get a seat anywhere in the building for just $5! Following the game come down to the ice for a post-game skate with the Road Warriors players, it’s free to anyone who has a ticket to the game. Skates are also available to rent. There are discounted tickets and preferred seating based on availability for any group of 10 or more that books in advance. Call 864-674-PUCK (7825) to book your group outing. Visit Greenvilleroadwarriors.com for more information.