NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – The South Carolina Stingrays enter the week in sixth place in the South Division after picking up three of six possible points this past weekend. The ECHL announced a change to the standings with rankings now based on point percentage instead of total points to make up for a potential lack of games for some teams. The home team won all three battles between the Stingrays and the Icemen beginning with two defensive battles before the offense broke out on Sunday. Ben Holmstrom celebrated skating in his 700th professional hockey game on Sunday with a goal and an assist in the victory.
Holmstrom has been the hot hand for South Carolina recently, tallying 11 points (five goals, six assists) in his last 11 games. The penalty kill has been lights out over the last eight games as well, killing off a streak of 24 straight penalties and finishing 26/28 in those contests. Newcomers Derek Gentile, Barret Kirwin, and Nick Isaacson have all come on strong recently with the latter two netting their first pro hockey goals over the weekend.
This week, the Stingrays have a four-game set ahead of them beginning on Wednesday against the in-state rivals, the Greenville Swamp Rabbits at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena. The Rays are 4-2-2 against the Rabbits this season, but haven’t faced off since December 5th. The team will head straight to Virginia for a three-game bout with the Norfolk Admirals at the Norfolk Scope Arena. The Rays and Admirals went at it two weeks ago in North Charleston with South Carolina winning both games. South Carolina is 2-1 against Norfolk on the season.
STINGRAYS RECORD:13-19-4-0LAST WEEK: 1-1-1-0
FRIDAY: JACKSONVILLE ICEMEN 2, SOUTH CAROLINA STINGRAYS 1(VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena – Jacksonville, FL)
All three goals on Friday night were scored in the first 13:04 of the contest. Luke Lynch opened the scoring on the Icemen’s eighth shorthanded goal of the season before South Carolina’s Nick Isaacson picked up his first pro hockey goal on a slapshot between the circles. Jacob Friend netted the eventual game-winner on a screened shot past Ryan Bednard who finished the night with 28 saves.
SATURDAY: JACKSONVILLE ICEMEN 1, SOUTH CAROLINA STINGRAYS 0 (OVERTIME)(VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena – Jacksonville, FL)
Standing on his head for the second straight contest, Ryan Bednard turned back the first 32 shots of the night, giving the Rays a chance to win it in overtime. Following a penalty less than two minutes into the extra period, Jacksonville’s Brendan Harris fired home a one-time goal for his first of the season and the win.
SUNDAY: SOUTH CAROLINA STINGRAYS 6, JACKSONVILLE ICEMEN 3(North Charleston Coliseum – North Charleston, SC)
The Stingrays used a barrage of goals on Sunday to overtake the Icemen for the fourth time this year and celebrate Ben Holmstrom’s 700th professional hockey game. Alex Brink led the way with two goals assisted by Jade Miller. Nick Isaacson’s second of the weekend provided the difference for South Carolina, serving as the eventual game-winning goal. Barret Kirwan knocked home his first tally of his pro career while Derek Gentile and Holmstrom added tucks of their own.
Wednesday, January 26: at Greenville Swamp Rabbits, 7:05 p.m. (Bon Secours Wellness Arena)
Friday, January 28: at Norfolk Admirals, 7:30 p.m. (Norfolk Scope Arena)
Saturday, January 29: at Jacksonville Icemen, 7:30 p.m. (Norfolk Scope Arena)
Sunday, January 30: vs. Jacksonville Icemen, 3:00 p.m. (Norfolk Scope Arena)
STINGRAYS LEADERSGoals: 14 – Andrew Cherniwchan Assists: 12 – Ben Holmstrom, Patrick HolwayPoints: 24 – Andrew CherniwchanPlus/Minus: Plus-2 – Jake MassiePenalty Minutes: 81 – Nico BlachmanShots On Goal: 122 – Justin FlorekWins: 8 – Ryan BednardGoals Against Average: 2.37 – Logan FlodellSave Percentage: 0.909 – Ryan Bednard
MR. 700On Sunday, Ben Holmstrom appeared in his 700th career regular season game and had a lot to look back on. The veteran has played across all different levels of professional hockey over the past 12 years, appearing in the NHL, AHL, ECHL, and in Norway, amassing 99 goals and adding 171 assists for 270 career points. Holmstrom spent the majority of time in the AHL with Adirondack, Charlotte, and Bridgeport, and played in seven games with the Philadelphia Flyers from 2010-12. The forward has made an even bigger impact in the lowcountry since New Year’s Eve, tallying 11 points (five goals, six assists) in the last 11 games following a goal and an assist on Sunday.
MID-SEASON CHECK-INSunday’s match officially marks the halfway point in the season for the Stingrays. While they’re not in the position they would hope for, there are a lot of positives from the first half. More than nearly any team in the league, South Carolina found their lineup shaken up from day one, and despite the changes, they’ve found ways to compete. The biggest thing for the Rays moving forward is to turn that compete into goals, and eventually wins. The penalty kill is still top notch, ranking second in the league and killing off 25 of the last 26 shorthanded chances.
PENALTY KILL SPECIALISTSThe Stingrays have been dominant on the penalty kill since the start of the New Year. In the first 10 games of 2022, South Carolina has been shorthanded 33 times and killed off 30 chances (90.9%). The Rays had a streak of 24 straight times shorthanded without giving up a goal as well. The team currently ranks second in the ECHL with an 85.2% on the penalty kill. Jade Miller tallied the first shorthanded goal since November 12th, showing that there is no worries among the team if they take a penalty.
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