Toledo, OH – Forward Joe Devin scored the game-winning goal 5:35 into triple overtime and goaltender Jeff Jakaitis earned a 44-save shutout victory to catapult the South Carolina Stingrays (12-8) into the Kelly Cup Finals with a 1-0 victory over the Toledo Walleye (11-10) in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Huntington Center Wednesday night. The Stingrays win the best-of-seven series 4-3 and will meet the Allen Americans in the 2015 Kelly Cup Finals starting Sunday in Allen, Texas.
The Walleye outshot the Stingrays 9-4 in the first period of action, but the Stingrays built momentum with several good shifts working the puck below the goal line and wearing down the Walleye defense around netminder Jeff Lerg (L, 41 saves on 42 shots). The Stingrays turned 11 shots on Lerg in the middle frame and Jakaitis (W, 44 saves on 44 shots) stopped all six Walleye chances including a Justin Mercier breakaway to keep the contest scoreless through two periods.
The Stingrays ramped up the pressured in the third period, earning a 10-4 shot advantage, but could not slip the puck past Lerg. In overtime, both sides exchanged rushes as Toledo rifled a period-high 16 shots on net, but Jakaitis received help from his posts twice and made several acrobatic saves to keep the game scoreless. The two sides generated 10 combined shots in the second overtime to force a third segment. After Walleye forward Martin Frk missed an open net early the frame, the Stingrays raced down the ice and forward Joe Devin caught a drop pass from forward Caleb Herbert and beat Lerg under the blocker for the game-winning goal at 5:35. For Devin, the marker is his second Game 7 game-winning tally (Game 7 vs. Reading). Defenseman Wade Epp received the second assist. The Stingrays finished the game 0-for-3 on the power play while the Walleye went 0-for-1.
The Stingrays meet the Allen Americans in the 2015 Kelly Cup Finals with Game 1 on Sunday, May 31 at 8:05 p.m. ET at the Allen Even Center in Allen Texas. The Stingrays and Americans collide in a 3-3-1 format and host the Americans for Game 4 on Sunday, June 7 at 7:05 p.m. at the North Charleston Coliseum. If necessary, Game 5 is Tuesday, June 9 at 7:05 and Game 6 is Wednesday, June 10 at the Coliseum.
2015 Kelly Cup Finals Schedule:
Game 1 – Sunday, May 31 at 7:05 p.m. CT at Allen Event Center in Allen, Texas
Game 2 – Tuesday, June 2 at 7:05 p.m. CT at Allen Event Center in Allen, Texas
Game 3 – Wednesday, June 3 at 7:05 p.m. CT at Allen Event Center in Allen, Texas
Game 4 – Sunday, June 7 at 7:05 p.m. ET at North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston, S.C.
Game 5 – Tuesday, June 9 at 7:05 p.m. ET at North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston, S.C. *
Game 6 – Wednesday, June 10 at 7:05 p.m. ET at North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston, S.C. *
Game 7 – Sunday, June 14 at 7:05 p.m. CT at Allen Event Center in Allen, Texas *
* – If Necessary
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