ECHL: From Preseason to Now: A Deeper Look into the South Carolina Stingrays Roster  

The team that just clinched the first spot in the race for the playoffs looks a lot different than the team that took the ice for the first time in the North Charleston Coliseum for opening night on October 22. The preseason roster includes 19 of the current players that still wear the CHS logo on their sweaters today.

One of the most notable absences from the preseason roster is goaltender Clay Stevenson, who was not added to the Stingrays until October 31, after being reassigned by the Hershey Bears, also an affiliate of the Capitals organization, after recovering from a hand operation. Stevenson has been a huge presence for the Rays this season, between the pipes alongside Tyler Wall, tallying 18 wins and a .918 save percentage. 

Let’s look at some of the most notable trades and releases up until this point in the season that led to the Stingrays’ successful season.

Gavin Gould for Jackson Leppard  

There have been some notable trades throughout the season, and many have wondered if they worked out in the Rays’ favor. The first big trade was in January for Jackson Leppard from the Allen Americans in exchange for Gavin Gould. Before leaving, Gould had dressed in 20 games for the Rays and had tallied no goals on the year but got his hand in a few of his teammate’s goals, getting eight assists on the board. Leppard had just seen action in 31 games for the Americans and had just three goals and seven assists.  

Since the trade, Leppard has been a heavy force on the ice for the Rays, trailing behind Chaz Reddekopp in total penalty minutes for the year. Hypothetically speaking, the Rays have been a good fit for Leppard, as he has almost tripled his goals since coming to the Lowcountry in the same amount of time he spent in Texas.  

As for Gould, he only spent a little time back in Allen, where he had previously spent time during the 21-22 season. While with the Americans this season, Gould posted one goal and seven assists before being traded to the Wichita Thunder, where he remains. In his time there, he has shown vast improvement, with three goals and seven assists in just 13 appearances.  

Sean Gulka

Gulka was a designated reserve player for South Carolina, as he did not see the ice until December 18. In his short time with the Stingrays, he tallied up 34 penalty minutes in just seven games, 22 of which were in a single game where he took on the former Stingray, Nico Blachman. Sean Gulka hasn’t recorded a goal or an assist while wearing the CHS sweater.  

Gulka was later traded to the Maine Mainers in January and soon after suspended by the team. He is now with the Pensacola Ice Flyers in the SPHL.  

Evan Wardley for Max Humitz  

Wardley’s trade shocked many in the fan base, as he was loved by so many of the fans. He was traded to Kalamazoo on March 15 and soon after was traded right to Greenville before the deadline. The next day, the Rays had to go face to face against their former teammate, in which the Swamp Rabbits took the win, and Wardley tallied an assist on the night. 

Max Humitz has been hot for the Ray’s since arriving in the South. In his first game, he found the back of the net unassisted, proving that he was ready for the change and here to play. He recently has been on an eight-game point streak, helping the Stingrays secure the top spot in the South and be the first team in the division to clinch a spot in the playoffs.  

Carter Turnbull  

Carter Turnbull was truly the face of the organization for the 22-23 campaign until his sudden departure for his new team overseas. Turnbull was the leading goal scorer for South Carolina when he left, meaning Bear Hughes would take over the throne in his absence as the leader as he left for HKM Zloven in Slovakia. Before his departure, however, the Stingrays suspended him from the team, retaining rights over him so that no other ECHL team could pick him up while away.

The former UCONN captain has appeared in six matches for HKM Zloven, recording only one assist. The club is currently in the playoffs, and the absence in the lineup is unknown.  

Carter Allen

Carter Allen was recently released from the Rays and available for waiver claims. He was picked up quickly by the Cincinnati Cyclones, and his former teammates did not take it easy on him when they faced Allen on their midwest road trip, beating the Cyclones 11-0.  

Carter Allen spent two seasons with the club, scoring his first professional goal this season on December 18. His release allowed for the signing of defensemen Connor Hall. Hall has dressed in three games and has already tallied his first professional and three assists. The former University of Brunswick and U Sports University Cup Champion has adjusted nicely to pro hockey play in the Lowcountry.  

Overall, each trade comes with benefits and risks, but in each instance for the Stingrays, they seem to have come out on the positive end. Both Leppard and Humitz have continued to perform more under Brenden Koytk than with their former clubs. The new additions to the team have also proven that they are ready to take the next step and are preparing for the postseason run. It will be interesting to see if any other roster changes occur with six games remaining, all against Southern Division teams.

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