NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – The South Carolina Stingrays enter the week last in the South Division after dropping their only game this past week on Sunday, leading them to a 9-13-2-0 record. After having five days off last week due to the league’s holiday, the team was hoping to hit the reset button and get themselves back on track.
Before Sunday’s contest, the team resigned defenseman Bryce Martin as a blueline reinforcement. The team played with only five defensemen for the fourth straight contest, falling to the Jacksonville Icemen in a 3-1 loss the day after Christmas. Ryan Bednard returned to net while Andrew Cherniwchan scored for the second straight contest.
The Stingrays start this week off against the top seed in the South Division, the Jacksonville Icemen, for the fourth consecutive game. South Carolina sees Jacksonville six times in a seven game span that ends with back to back games this Saturday and Sunday to kick off the new year. The Icemen come in as one of the hottest teams in the league, winning 14 of their last 16 games and are currently on a eight-game win-streak that has propelled them to the top of the South Division. The Rays will also take on the Orlando Solar Bears for a New Year’s Eve contest at the Amway Center for the first time this season. The Solar Bears are a game over .500 after going 4-6 in their last 10 games.
STINGRAYS RECORD:9-13-2-0LAST WEEK: 0-1-0-0
SUNDAY: JACKSONVILLE ICEMEN 3, SOUTH CAROLINA STINGRAYS 1(North Charleston Coliseum - North Charleston, SC)
For the second straight contest, Andrew Cherniwchan found himself on the score sheet as he netted his team-leading 11th goal of the season midway through the second period. Cherniwchan’s goal was surrounded by three Jacksonville tallies, including two power play goals in the second period. Ryan Bednard returned from Hershey and made 20 saves in the loss.
Wednesday, December 29: at Jacksonville Icemen, 7:00 p.m. (VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena)
Friday, December 31: at Orlando Solar Bears, 12:00 p.m. (Amway Center)
Saturday, January 1: at Jacksonville Icemen, 7:00 p.m. (VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena)
Sunday, January 2: vs. Jacksonville Icemen, 3:05 p.m. (North Charleston Coliseum) – Health & Wellness
STINGRAYS LEADERSGoals: 11 – Andrew Cherniwchan Assists: 12 – Patrick HolwayPoints: 18 – Andrew CherniwchanPlus/Minus: Plus-2 – Jake MassiePenalty Minutes: 42 – Alex BrinkShots On Goal: 88 – Justin FlorekWins: 5 – Ryan BednardGoals Against Average: 2.50 – Ryan BednardSave Percentage: 0.922 – Ryan Bednard
GETTING BACK TO THE START
South Carolina’s early game scoring has defined the outcome in the majority of contests this season. When scoring first, the Rays are 6-3-1-0 while only going 3-9-1-0 when they find themselves behind early. In the Rays 11 games where they picked up points, they have only been outscored in the first period once in the November 27th comeback win against the Atlanta Gladiators on the road. In all of the other 10 contests, the Stingrays have either led after the first or been tied heading into the second period. The Rays have outscored opponents 17-6 in the first period in their 11 games with points. During the seven-game slide, the Stingrays have never led after the first period and in all their losses this year, they’ve been outscored 14-8 in the opening frame.
CHERNY’S SPECIAL YEAR
Andrew Cherniwchan is in his 10th season of professional hockey and ninth as a Stingray, yet he might just be hitting his stride now. “Cherny” leads the Rays and is tied for fifth in the ECHL with five power play goals this season to go along with a shorthanded goal as well, tying him with 6 special teams goal. The captain topped out with a career high the past two seasons, tallying eight power play goals and 12 total on special teams. Cherniwchan currently has 11 goals and is on pace for his best points per game and goals scored in a season. The uptick in offensive production can be attributed to the predominantly-rookie lineup and injury/COVID-plagued season. Cherniwchan has taken his role as captain seriously both on and off the ice.
RING IN THE NEW YEAR WITH A BANG
The Stingrays have been looking to break out of their slump over the last few weeks, and now is the perfect time more than ever. In a symbolic-fashion, the calendar year is coming to a close this upcoming Friday, and the Rays are hoping to leave 2021 in the rearview. Coming off a season in which South Carolina was the Kelly Cup runner-up, there were high hopes for the year, but a couple bad stretches found the team in last place. The Stingrays are looking to forget about 2021 and look ahead to 2022 where they can ring in the new year with a handful of victories
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