NORTH CHARLES-TON, S.C. - Jeff Jakaitis, the 2011-12 ECHL Goaltender of the Year, has gotten off to a magnificent start in 2013-14, which continued Saturday night.
The 30-year old turned aside all 21 shots he faced, improving to 16-1-3 on the season, as the South Carolina Stingrays blanked the Wheeling Nailers, 3-0.
In the first period, the Stingrays opened the scoring with a pair of shorthanded goals. At the 4:10 mark, Igor Gongalsky stole a pass on the far side of the Wheeling defensive zone, before connecting with Luke Greiner high in the slot. Greiner took a wrist shot from that location, sliding the puck into the back of the net. Later in the frame, South Carolina used the power play to add a second goal to the board. Ryan Grimshaw received a pass from Jeremy Price, and proceeded to power a one-timer into the top-left corner of the cage. Gongalsky also picked up an assist for his second point of the period.
After being outshot 17-4 during the first period, the Nailers produced a better result in the second, outshooting the Stingrays, 11-6. However, Wheeling was unable to cash in, as South Carolina carried its 2-0 advantage into the third.
The score remained that way until the dying seconds, when Peter Boyd used his speed to his advantage to get past the Nailers defense, before tapping in an empty net goal for a 3-0 final.
Jakaitis improved his league-leading goals against average and save percentage, stopping all 21 shots he faced, earning the victory for the Stingrays. Alex Westlund made 26 saves on 28 shots for Wheeling, but suffered the loss.
The Nailers will return home on Tuesday for a 6 p.m. game against the Reading Royals.
Wheeling 0 0 0 - 0
South Carolina 2 0 1 - 3
1st Period-1, South Carolina, Greiner 2 (Gongalsky), 4:10 (SH). 2, South Carolina, Grimshaw 1 (Price, Gongalsky), 15:45 (PP). Penalties-Price Sc (interference), 3:01; Areshenko Whl (slashing ), 14:54.
2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Fernandez Whl (interference), 2:07; served by McGrath Whl (bench - too many men), 19:09.
3rd Period-3, South Carolina, Boyd 8 (Grimshaw), 19:43 (EN). Penalties-Busniuk Sc (closing hand on puck), 2:24; Bakker Whl (holding), 17:07.
Shots on Goal-Wheeling 4-11-6-21. South Carolina 17-6-6-29.
Power Play Opportunities-Wheeling 0 / 2; South Carolina 1 / 4.
Goalies-Wheeling, Westlund 0-2-0-0 (28 shots-26 saves). South Carolina, Jakaitis 16-1-1-2 (21 shots-21 saves).
Referees-Brett Sheva (8).
Linesmen-Zach Thornton (80), Terry Wicklum (98).