The ECHL finals are set. After two thrilling victories in game sevens last night, the Kelly Cup will be won by either the South Carolina Stingrays or the Allen Americans.
The Stingrays had to fight and claw to earn their berth to the championship. Their contest with the Toledo Walleye in game seven, from Toledo, took three overtimes before a victor could be determined.
Joe Devin scored the game winner 5:35 into the triple OT, but the star of the game was goaltender Jeff Jakaitis. Jakaitis, who has been making history all season long for the Stingrays, made 44 saves to hold the Walleye at bay.
The Stingrays led 3-0 in this series before the Walleye stormed back to tie it at three games a piece. The collapse would have been the first of its kind in the history of the ECHL. In a season where the Stingrays have seen many records fall in their favor, holding this dubious record would have negated the rest.
This series was as epic as any going on in the NHL this playoff season. Four overtimes were needed and each game in the series was determined by just one goal. This is the fourth appearance in the finals for the Stingrays, the last coming in 2009 when they won it all.
“It was an epic series,” said South Carolina Stingrays coach Spencer Carbery to the Post and Courier. “The guys competed so hard tonight and laid it all out on the line for one another. I’m so proud of the way the guys played tonight. It was kind of a weird series, with some weird bounces and I think that’s what helped inflate some of the scoring. I think (Wednesday) was the kind of game everyone expected throughout the whole series.
“One bounce, one mistake ended up being the difference in the series and that’s what usually happens in a Game 7. Toledo has a great hockey club. The guys came into a hostile environment and just competed as hard as they ever have with their season on the line. I couldn’t be proud of them.”
The series will open on Sunday, May 31st at 8pm eastern from Allen, Texas. The series is a 3-3-1 format, which means the Americans will have the first three games before the series shifts to South Carolina, and if a game seven is needed it will be back in Texas.
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