NORTH CHARLESTON, SC-Kelly Zajac notched a goal and two assists, and Derek DeBlois scored in his first game back from the American Hockey League (AHL) to lead the South Carolina Stingrays (40-18-6-3) to a 4-2 victory over the Atlanta Gladiators (31-29-5-2) Tuesday night at the North Charleston Coliseum. The Stingrays claimed the victory in a physical affair that saw the two teams combine for 106 penalty minutes, including 77 from South Carolina. 

Kelly Zajac

Kelly Zajac

The Stingrays jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the chippy game. Just a few hours after being returned to South Carolina from Lake Erie of the AHL, DeBlois opened the scoring. South Carolina’s Nick Jones chipped the puck behind the net to DeBlois. He walked out from behind the net and snapped a shot over the glove of Atlanta netminder Matt Ginn to make it 1-0 at 12:21 of the first period. Zajac also assisted.

The Stingrays would add two more goals in the second period. Zajac would score his sixth goal of the season on the power play at11:02. DeBlois made a perfect cross-ice pass to Zajac on the right wing. His one-time shot hit the top corner of the net over Ginn’s shoulder. 
Zajac would factor in on the third goal, feeding Spencer Humphries on the power play at 12:40. The defenseman’s shot was deflected in front of the goal by Stephan Vigier past Ginn to make it 3-0. The goal was Vigier’s team-leading 24th goal of the year. 
After several large scrums put the Stingrays shorthanded, the Gladiators struck on the power play in the third period to make it 3-1. Thomas Frazee deflected a Max Everson shot under the pad of South Carolina’s Vitek Vanecek at 10:59.
Just when Atlanta appeared to be in striking distance, Patrick Gaul scored an insurance goal to put the Stingrays back up by three. The forward cut down the right wing side and snapped a shot past the blocker of Ginn for his sixth goal of the season at 15:30 to make it 4-1. 
A late goal from Jacob Bolton at 18:59 was not enough for Atlanta in the defeat. The Gladiators outshot the Stingrays 29-23. South Carolina was 2-for-4 on the power play while Atlanta was 2-for-8.
The game saw three fights and four 10-minute misconducts as South Carolina moved to 8-3-1-0 versus Atlanta this season. The two teams meet again to finish the season series on April 6

The Stingrays, just two points behind Toledo for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, host the final two home games of the regular season this weekend. Friday is SAIC/USO Night featuring a Drawstring Bag Giveaway to the first 1,000 fans at 7:05 p.m. versus Orlando. Friday is also a Rays 4 Pack Night, featuring 4 tickets, 4 sodas, 4 hot dogs and one large popcorn for just $65! Saturday is the club’s final home game of the regular season versus Orlando at 7:05 p.m. It is Fan Appreciation Night presented by The Post and Courier featuring FREE parking. That night, fans
 could win one of five Stingrays authentic throwback jerseys to be given away at the game! Also, raffle tickets will be available to win a jersey off the back of a Stingrays player. For more information, call the Stingrays at 843-744-2248.


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