NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – The South Carolina Stingrays enter the week in sixth place in the South Division after picking up one of four wins last week thanks to a Sunday victory over the Norfolk Admirals. Ryan Bednard stayed perfect in shootouts after stopping all four shots in the victory on top of 30 saves during play. The Rays were missing some key players last week, including the loss of Tariq Hammond to Hershey on Sunday to cap off the weekend.
This week, there’s only one game to look forward to this upcoming Saturday against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. The intra-state rival is one of the hottest teams in the league right now, tallying points in each of their last five games and beating the top-seeded Florida Everblades in three of those contests. In order to keep close with the teams above them, South Carolina needs a win over the team in fifth place, Greenville.
LAST WEEK: 1-3-0-0
WEDNESDAY: GREENVILLE SWAMP RABBITS 7, SOUTH CAROLINA STINGRAYS 2(Bon Secours Wellness Arena – Greenville, SC)
Greenville got out to a hot start with four goals in the opening period before adding two more in the middle frame for a 6-0 lead. South Carolina gained back some momentum early in the third period as Derek Gentile popped the puck over the netminder’s shoulder before Ryan Dmowski redirected a Tariq Hammond shot for a tally in his return from the Hershey Bears.
FRIDAY: NORFOLK ADMIRALS 6, SOUTH CAROLINA STINGRAYS 4(Norfolk Scope Arena – Norfolk, VA)
It was a quick start for the Admirals on Friday night, tallying two goals in the first for a 2-0 lead. Norfolk kept taking three goal leads, but South Carolina had an answer for each subsequent tally. Unfrotunately, the Rays never got closer than a two-goal deficit. Ryan Dmowski picked up two more goals while Justin Florek and Derek Gentile each added on as well.
SATURDAY: NORFOLK ADMIRALS 4, SOUTH CAROLINA STINGRAYS 1(Norfolk Scope Arena – Norfolk, VA)
Kristian Stead’s first career ECHL start didn’t go as planned, beginning with a misfire on a clearing attempt 12 seconds into the contest that the Admirals made him pay for. Stead settled down from there and finished the game with 31 saves. Justin Florek netted the Rays only goal on an attempted give-and-go with Connor Moore, banking the puck off a defender and in for his 12th of the season.
SUNDAY: SOUTH CAROLINA STINGRAYS 2, NORFOLK ADMIRALS 1(Norfolk Scope Arena – Norfolk, VA
Bryce Martin’s second tally of the season gave the Stingrays their initial lead early in the middle frame before the Admirals tied the score in the third period. After a scoreless overtime, the Rays went to a shootout for the third time this season where Nick Isaacson netted the lone shootout goal while Ryan Bednard made stops in all four rounds on top of a 30-save performance.
THIS WEEKSaturday, February 5: at Greenville Swamp Rabbits, 7:05 p.m. (Bon Secours Wellness Arena)
STINGRAYS LEADERSGoals: 14 – Andrew Cherniwchan Assists: 13 – Ben HolmstromPoints: 25 – Justin FlorekPlus/Minus: Plus-2 – Jake MassiePenalty Minutes: 81 – Nico BlachmanShots On Goal: 135 – Justin FlorekWins: 9 – Ryan BednardGoals Against Average: 2.37 – Logan FlodellSave Percentage: 0.909 – Logan Flodell
A GENTILE-MAN AND A SCORERDerek Gentile has been a great addition for the Stingrays since being assigned by the Hershey Bears on January 14th. In his pro hockey debut, Gentile made a name for himself by tallying two goals and an assist, including the game-winning goal before adding another assist the following night. In his first nine career games, Gentile has himself eight points, scoring five goals and adding three assists. To start the year, he had 28 points in 17 games while at Dalhousie University and has no reason to slow down moving forward.
SHE’S A (PENALTY) KILLER QUEENThe Stingrays have been dominant on the penalty kill since the start of the New Year. In the first 14 games of 2022, South Carolina has been shorthanded 47 times and killed off 42 chances (89.4%), three points ahead of the top team in the league. 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.
WITHIN STRIKING DISTANCEDespite hitting two bad stretches this season, the Stingrays still find themselves within striking distance of the final playoff spot for the south division. Back from fourth place by only 10 points, the Stingrays and Orlando Solar Bears will faceoff four more times this regular season. If South Carolina can come away with victories in those contests, it’s only a game difference for the final spot with 32 games left to play.
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