MANCHESTER, N.H. – Olivier Archambault scored twice including the game-winning strike in the third period as the South Carolina Stingrays defeated the Manchester Monarchs 4-3 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals Wednesday night at SNHU Arena to advance to the Kelly Cup Finals.
The Stingrays will play the Colorado Eagles starting with Game 1 on Friday night at 9:05 p.m. EST.
Rob Flick and Domenic Monardo also had a goal and an assist for South Carolina in the victory, while Kelly Zajac picked up two assists and Parker Milner stopped 24 shots to earn the win in between the pipes.
Manchester started out in front and took an early 1-0 lead at 4:18 of the first period on a goal off a rush by Zac Lynch.
Flick tied things up quickly at 1-1 just 3:03 later with his 11th tally of the postseason at 7:21 of the first. The London, Ont. native found a loose puck in front of the net and punched it in after an initial shot by Marcus Perrier. Monardo had the second assist on the strike.
Later in the frame, the Monarchs re-took the lead at 2-1 when former Stingray Colton Saucerman scored his first goal of the series on the power play at 14:20.
But once again South Carolina evened the game, this time at 2-2 on a goal by Monardo at 14:31 of the second period. After an initial shot by Andrew Cherniwchan was blocked, Monardo tied the game by wristing the rebound up high over Manchester goaltender Sam Brittain. Flick picked up the second assist for his second point of the night and the Stingrays never trailed the rest of the way.
Archambault gave South Carolina their first lead at 3-2, scoring his sixth goal of the postseason from Kelly Zajac and Wade Epp at 15:41. After Epp put the puck up in the air from his own zone, Zajac knocked it down and moved into the offensive end before sliding a pass to Archambault down the left wing. The speedy forward used a deke to his backhand and slipped the puck past Brittain at the right side of the net for the goal.
Manchester wasn’t out of the game yet, as Ashton Rome scored his third goal of the series to even the game at 3-3 early on in the third period at 3:17.
Minutes later Archambault responded with his second of the night, deflecting a shot by Joey Leach to the bottom left corner of the net to put South Carolina ahead 4-3. Archambault’s seventh of the playoffs turned out to be the game-winner and also had an assist from Zajac.
The Stingrays held off a few late chances by Manchester and pulled out the victory, outshooting the Monarchs 30-27 in the game.
Brittain finished the contest with 26 saves, playing in his 19th game of the postseason. The Monarchs were 1-for-3 on the power play, while South Carolina was 0-for-1.