The hockey gods stiffed South Carolina one last time in Saturday's consolation game at the Southeastern Collegiate Hockey Conference tournament in Antioch, Tennessee.
With South Carolina's roster reduced to 15 skaters in the game's latter half, the Gamecocks battled back to put themselves in a fine position to take the game and a fifth place finish. In the end, however, a constant stream of penalties — some more questionable than others — and the stellar play of Ole Miss goaltender Joseph Warnecke befell the Gamecocks.
South Carolina took seven minor penalties in the first period alone, and the Rebels wasted no time making them pay. Just under eight minutes in, with Ole Miss leading 1-0 and Jake Tengi serving his third minor of the period, Braden Storner tipped home Gray Erwin's blast from just inside the blue line to give his team a quick two-goal lead.
Brian Sohr cut the Rebels' lead in half 1:27 before the first intermission with his second goal of the tournament, sending Cory Hawkinson's rebound underneath Warnecke to make it 2-1.
No scoring followed in the second, but injuries once again plagued the already short Gamecock bench. In addition to the absence of leading goalscorer Sean Davis, Tengi left the game with a possible concussion, a result of him crashing into the glass after an Ole Miss player dodged his attempted body check.
Ian Schneider followed Tengi to the locker room eight minutes later after sustaining a leg injury in a scrum in front of the South Carolina net. According to head coach Allan Sirois, both players are unlikely to play in the Gamecocks' final regular season game this Friday.
Left with only 15 skaters, South Carolina faced the final period down one. Desperate to catch up to the Rebels, Sirois pulled goaltender Jared Ward on a 5-on-3 power play seven minutes into the third. The gamble soon paid off as Ian Powderly one-timed a pass past Warnecke from the right circle to get the Gamecocks back within one with 12:01 to play.
Just over two minutes later, Alex Siegfried batted home a pass from behind the goal line for his sixth goal of the season to knot the game at 3-3. As with Friday's game against Kentucky, though, penalties ultimately did the Gamecocks in.
Still tied with two minutes and change remaining, officials sent Nick Nardslico off the ice for cross checking. The Gamecocks killed the Rebels' man advantage, but with 28.5 seconds remaining, Sohr took his fifth penalty of the night for hooking to put Ole Miss on the power play for the remainder of regulation. As Sohr skated to the box, Ole Miss called timeout to prepare for one last offensive push.
Just off the faceoff, with 7.5 seconds until overtime, Storner beat Ward through traffic with a long wrist shot from the right-side boards to put the Rebels ahead for good, 4-3. With 2.9 seconds left, Sirois pulled Ward a second time after Erwin took yet another minor penalty for Ole Miss, but the Gamecocks couldn't get a shot off before the final horn. Warnecke finished with 43 saves to Ward's 34.
South Carolina closes the regular season with the senior night game against Clemson on Friday night in Irmo.