Inferno Claim The ECHL Southern Conference Title With 4-2 Win Over Sea Wolves In Columbia - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

05/02/03

Inferno Claim The ECHL Southern Conference Title With 4-2 Win Over Sea Wolves In Columbia

The Inferno ripped off the first three games in the series and watched the Sea Wolves claim two straight before Friday's showdown in Columbia. Before a crowd of 2,251 the Inferno battled back from a 1-0 deficit to eliminate Mississippi from the Kelly Cup Championship hunt.

Columbia will meet the Cincinnati-Atlantic City survivor in the finals. Cincinnati defeated Atlantic City 3-2 Friday night to force a 7th game on Saturday. Cincinnati could become the first ECHL team to battle back from a 3-0 deficit to win a 7 game playoff series.

The Sea Wolves struck first, ending a 0 for 25 scoreless streak on the power-play against the Inferno. Sergei Kutznetsov broke the drought at 5:50 of the first period scoring his 7th playoff goal and gave Mississippi some hope.

Sean Owens came right back for Columbia with the tying goal at 16:23 of the first period bagging his 3rd playoff goal.

The Inferno caught fire in the 2nd period with two goals, the first by Darrell Hay at 5:25 of the period. Tim Smith zipped the puck past Greg Gardner at 8:06 of the second period and Columbia led 3-1.

At 17:39 of the second period rookie Mike Scott pulled the trigger on his 6th playoff goal and Mississippi was back in business trailing 3-2.

The Inferno turned up the heat at 17:24 of the final period on an unassisted goal by Chris Pittman and Columbia would celebrate a first ever trip to the Kelly Cup finals eliminating the Sea Wolves 4-2, winning the best-of-seven series 4 games to 2.

The Sea Wolves connected on 2 of 6 power-play chances, while Columbia came up empty in 3 tries.

Greg Gardner stopped 27 of 31 shots on goal and Inferno goalie Patrick Couture stopped 26 of 28 shots.

The Sea Wolves close out another successful season, losing in the Southern Conference finals for the second consecutive season.

By A.J. Giardina

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