Last night was just about as good as it gets for Fort St. John alum Scott Ford and his teammates with the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays. The team was in Toledo last night for game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals and came away with a 1-0 win in triple overtime to book their tickets to the ECHL finals where they’ll compete for the Kelly Cup against the Allen Americans.
The best of seven series appeared to be in control for the Stingrays as they were up 3-0. A loss in game four, coupled with back to back losses in overtime however forced game seven. Ford said the squad put forth their best effort of the series to finally seal the deal.
Playing in a third consecutive overtime game, and a second hockey game in as many nights had both teams running low on energy, but Ford and the Stingrays seemed to have that extra gear needed as the teams entered the third overtime period of the night.
“It definitely does especially playing two games back to back,” Ford said. Both teams are pretty fatigued. Obviously you’re forechecking not as hard. Our group was pretty resilient, and seemed to be pretty fresh, we seemed to be the fresher team.”
Reflecting on the victory last night, Ford said it brought back memories of being a youngster and playing on the street pretending it’s next goal wins.
“We were just happy we put ourselves in that position where next goal wins. It’s cliché but you think about how many times you grow up as a kid and you put yourself in those positions in road hockey where it’s the seventh game in overtime. It just doesn’t happen and for it to occur it’s something that we’ll never forget.”
On a personal level advancing to the finals, and the season as a whole has been something that’s given Ford a lot of great memories, especially considering he didn’t know where his career was going in December of last year.
“When you’re on the couch until December contemplating your future as a professional it’s huge,” he said. “It’s been great to come down here and be involved with a group of guys that have been great all year. We went on that big stretch run where we set records for wins in a row. We’ve had a group of guys here that have stuck together through thick and thin. We had not a good start. There was a time where we were hovering around .500 just after Christmas and on the outside looking in for the playoffs. There’s a lot of great memories and a lot of cool things happened this year and to be a part of that is pretty special. I’m proud to be a part of it.”
The overtime winner was scored by Joe Devin. Stingrays tender Jeff Jakaitis turned aside all 44 shots he faced.
Ford and company will play in game one of the Kelly Cup Finals on Sunday afternoon at 2:05 p.m. local time.