NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – A quick start failed to help the Kansas City Mavericks pad their lead over Rapid City in the ECHL’s Mountain Division playoff race.

The host Stingrays scored all four of their goals in the first period – including two in the final minute – to erase a 1-0 deficit and hand the Mavericks a 4-2 road loss Tuesday.

It was especially frustrating for the Mavericks as South Carolina had dropped 11 of its 12 previous home games.

The 32-24-3-2 Mavericks are closing in on their first playoff berth in two seasons, and seventh playoff appearance in the franchise’s 10-year history.

The Mavericks need 76 points to clinch a playoff spot and eliminate Rapid City and Wichita from playoff contention. The Mavs currently have 69 points with 10 games remaining. Rapid City is 26-30-5-3 and did not play Tuesday night.

“We need points, and we especially need points on this road trip,” Mavericks coach John-Scott Dickson said by phone after his team played the first of eight games in a row on the road. “Tonight, we get a quick goal – and then it appears we’re up 2-0 – but they take the goal away.

“That’s so frustrating because a 2-0 game is so much different than a 1-1 game, as we found out tonight.”

Captain Rocco Carzo scored just 27 seconds into the first period on assists from Darian Dziurzynski and Greg Betzold to give the Mavericks a 1-0 lead/

But Stingrays’ forward Steve Johnson scored at 12:18 to tie it.

It appeared the Mavericks had taken a 2-0 lead early in the period, but the goal was taken off the scoreboard after a lengthy discussion by the on-ice officials.

“The official told me he didn’t see it, and what can you do or say?” Dickson continued. “That’s tough. I’m not using it as an excuse, and we can’t have a minute – like we did at the end of the period – where we let an opponent score two goals.

“Other than that minute, I thought we played well. They’re fighting for their playoff life and so are we. But we should have had a 2-0 lead. I thought that was a legitimate goal.”

South Carolina’s Jordan Samuels-Thomas scored at 15:30 of the first period to put the Stingrays ahead. The key goals came late as Miles Liberati scored at 19:21 and Andrew Cherniwchan added a goal at 19:57 to make it 4-1.

Kansas City’s Joey Sides scored a power-play goal at 15:51 of the third period on assists from Riley Sweeney and Nate Widman, but it was too little too late.

The loss kept Dickson from getting his 100th career win. In three seasons with the Mavericks, his record is 99-86-11-8.