The South Carolina Stingrays gained ground last week in their push to earn a spot in the 2021 Kelly Cup Playoffs, securing three wins from their four contests against Indy and Jacksonville. This week, the team travels to Orlando for a three-game weekend series against the Orlando Solar Bears on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Rays currently hold sixth place in the ECHL’s Eastern Conference standings with a points percentage at 0.549 which is just behind both Orlando and Jacksonville. SC is aiming to move up and finish in the top four in the standings to qualify for the postseason.
In 10 previous outings against Orlando this season, South Carolina has a record of 4-6-0 matchup against the Solar Bears. Most recently, the Stingrays took two of three from Orlando in the team’s last series at the Amway Center two weeks ago that included a 6-2 win on April 30 as well as a 7-4 victory on May 2. South Carolina has shown improvement on special teams late in the season, scoring power play goals in six consecutive contests dating back to May 7 and successfully killing 22 of their last 24 penalties dating back to May 3, a rate of 91.6%.
STINGRAYS RECORD:27-21-10-3LAST WEEK: 3-1-0-0
TUESDAY: SOUTH CAROLINA STINGRAYS 3, INDY FUEL 1(North Charleston Coliseum – North Charleston, SC)The South Carolina Stingrays scored once in each period and got 40 saves from goaltender Alex Dubeau to defeat the Indy Fuel by a score of 3-1 on Tuesday night at the North Charleston Coliseum in the opener of a two-game set between the two clubs. Forwards Tim Harrison and Dylan Steman led the way offensively, each securing a goal and an assist, while team captain Andrew Cherniwchan scored his 17th goal of the season in the victory.
WEDNESDAY: SOUTH CAROLINA STINGRAYS 5, INDY FUEL 4 OT(North Charleston Coliseum – North Charleston, SC)A dramatic three-goal comeback set the stage for an overtime winner by Zach Malatesta to give the South Carolina Stingrays a 5-4 win and a two-game sweep of the Indy Fuel at the North Charleston Coliseum on Wednesday night. Once again it was SC’s captain Andrew Cherniwchan who did the heavy lifting on offense, factoring in on the scoring of all three third period goals to bring his team back from a 4-1 deficit. Cherniwchan scored twice while adding an assist and four other Rays’ skaters had multi-point nights, including Justin Florek and Max Novak who each scored a goal and an assist, as well as Matthew Weis (3 assists) and Caleb Herbert (two assists).
FRIDAY: JACKSONVILLE ICEMEN 3, SOUTH CAROLINA STINGRAYS 2(VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena – Jacksonville, FL)The Jacksonville Icemen used a strong defensive performance and a third period goal from Derek Lodermeier to get past the South Carolina Stingrays by a final score of 3-2 on Friday night at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. Stingrays’ goals came from forward Matthew Weis and defender Tyler Nanne, while goaltender Alex Dubeau stopped 22 shots in a losing effort.
SATURDAY: SOUTH CAROLINA STINGRAYS 4, JACKSONVILLE ICEMEN 2(VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena – Jacksonville, FL)Cole Ully scored twice and added an assist to lead the South Carolina Stingrays offense and Matthew Weis scored twice in a 4-2 win over the Jacksonville Icemen on Saturday night at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. Weis’ tallies extended his league-high point streak to 11 games in the team’s victory and goaltender Alex Dubeau earned the win in between the pipes with 23 saves for his club.THIS WEEKFriday, May 21 – at Orlando Solar Bears, 7 p.m. (Amway Center)Saturday, May 22 – at Orlando Solar Bears, 7 p.m. (Amway Center)Sunday, May 23 – at Orlando Solar Bears, 3 p.m. (Amway Center)STINGRAYS LEADERSGoals: 20 – Cole UllyAssists: 34 – Cole UllyPoints: 54 – Cole UllyPlus/Minus: Plus-5 – Ryan CookPenalty Minutes: 50 – Zach MalatestaShots On Goal: 141 – Justin FlorekWins: 16 – Alex DubeauGoals Against Average: 2.84 – Alex DubeauSave Percentage: 0.920 – Matt Jurusik
WEIS EXTENDS LEAGUE-HIGH POINT STREAKForward Matthew Weis has picked up points in 11 straight games for South Carolina, scoring 17 total points during the run on four goals and 13 assists. His hot stretch is the longest current streak in the ECHL, while his recent run of assists in nine straight games from April 25 until May 12 was the longest in the league this season. Most recently, Weis scored twice to help lead SC to a 4-2 road win in Jacksonville on Saturday and finished with a league-high seven points in four games last week on three goals and four assists. In 29 ECHL games with the Rays this year, Weis, who is playing on an AHL contract with the Hershey Bears, has accounted for 23 points on eight goals and 15 assists.
CHERNIWCHAN CONTINUES MEMORABLE STRETCH RUNStingrays captain Andrew Cherniwchan continued his recent hot play last week, posting five points in four games on three goals and two assists. After scoring a power play goal in Tuesday’s win, the Hinton, Alberta native picked up three points in the third period on Wednesday (2g, 1a) to lead SC to a come-from-behind victory. He then added a power play assist on a goal by Matthew Weis Friday night. Cherniwchan is third on the team in scoring with 42 total points while playing in a club-high 59 contests this season. In his last 19 games, Cherniwchan has scored 24 points (11g, 13a) and has a streak of points in eight straight home games that remains active as the longest current run in the league.
DUBEAU CARRYING THE LOADGoaltender Alex Dubeau has been busy as of late, carrying the load in net for his team. Last week the backstop played every minute during all four of the team’s games and earned three wins, two at home over Indy and one on the road in Jacksonville. Dubeau has now started seven of SC’s eight games in May and has secured wins in five of them. The goaltender has posted 30 or more saves eight different times this year, playing in 26 contests overall with a record of 16-4-4-1, a goals-against average of 2.84 and a save percentage at 0.907.
SAVING THE BEST FOR LASTThe Stingrays have played their best in the offensive end of the ice late in games this season, scoring a total of 72 goals during the third period, which ranks as the third-most in the ECHL. The average of 1.18 goals is the highest of any period this season for SC, and has made up 39% of the team’s total offense on the year.—Tickets for all of the team’s upcoming 2020-21 home contests are on sale now via Ticketmaster.
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