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Gladiators drop season opener

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Tyler McNeely potted the go-ahead goal in the third, and the South Carolina Stingrays held on for a 4-3 win over the Gwinnett Gladiators on Saturday night at North Charleston Coliseum in the season debut for both teams.

The Gladiators (0-1-0-0) outshot the Rays (1-0-0-0) 38-24, but were unable to solve South Carolina goaltender Adam Morrison down the stretch (35 saves). Coyotes prospect Louie Domingue stopped 20 shots, but took the loss.

Returning Gwinnett forward Tyler Murovich tied the game in the third on the power play, as he banked a shot in off Morrison from the near goal line at 5:41. Casey Pierro-Zabotel and Ryan Donald had the assists, but the Rays would have an answer.

With 10:01 remaining McNeely put South Carolina up for good. After originally having his centering pass from the near post blocked, McNeely regained control of the puck and managed to tuck it past Domingue. A late Gladiators offensive surge came up empty, and the Rays held on for the win.

After a scoreless first period, the floodgates opened in the second. Former Gladiator Mike Hamilton opened the scoring 5 minutes, but Gwinnett answered just a couple minutes later.

Forward Chris Clackson led a three-on-one, but the Pittsburgh native opted to take the shot himself and rifled a wrister over the glove hand of goaltender Adam Morrison to tie the game at 7:18. Kyle Lawson and Rylan Galiardi provided the assists, but the score wouldn't stay even for long.

1:38 after Gwinnett tied it the Rays again took the lead, as Andrew Cherniwchan cashed in on a clean chance in front. At 11:15 South Carolina added another marker courtesy of Mike Ulrich to make it a 3-1 game.

The Gladiators managed to get one back late in the period. Forward Kale Kerbashian let loose a snipe from the high slot that beat Morrison glove side to pull Gwinnett within one at 18:15. Doug Jones and Dallas Jackson set up the goal, and despite outshooting the Rays 16-7 in the second trailed heading into the third.

Gwinnett is next in action Friday at 7:35 p.m. at the Arena at Gwinnett Center against the Ontario Reign.