The Pee Dee Pride had won 27 games on their home ice and needed a win Wednesday night to keep their hopes alive for the Southeast Division title. The Columbia Inferno wouldn't give the Pride a chance blazing their way to an impressive 5-1 victory sweeping the Pride 3 games to none.
The win propels the Inferno into the Southern Conference best-of-seven finals against the Mississippi Sea Wolves beginning next week. The times and dates will be announced on Thursday.
Columbia and Mississippi did not play each other this season. During the regular season the Inferno captured the top spot in the Southeast Division with 96 points. Columbia posted a 47-23-2 won-loss record.
On Wednesday night Chris Pittman gave the Inferno a 2-1 lead at 12:37 of the second period, after Eric Naud tied it 1-1 for the Pride at 13:33 of the period. That was Pittman's second goal of the game. He gave Columbia a 1-0 lead at 15:09 of the first period.
The Inferno continued their hot streak on the ice with three more goals.. one more in the second on a Robin Carruthers slap shot at 14:14 of the period. Carruthers came right back at 3:57 of the third period to slap home his 5th goal in the playoffs.
Shawn Wansborough closed out the scoring at 13:32 of the final period giving Columbia a 5-1 win, advancing to the Southern Conference finals.
The Inferno connected on only one of 6 power-play chances while the Pride came up empty on 3 power-play opportunities. That proves that Columbia is a very good offensive team when going 5 or 5.
Columbia goalie Patrick Couture stopped 24 of 25 shots on goal. Ron Vogel of the Pride halted 18 of 23 shots.
A crowd of only 1,893 showed up in Pee Dee.