ECHL: South Carolina Stingrays’ Clean Sweep of the Central Division

The South Carolina Stingrays came in hot this weekend with a clean sweep against the top three playoff teams in the Central Division, outscoring their opponents 18-1 over the three games. Coming into the weekend, the Cincinnati Cyclones were 1st with 95 points, and the Toledo Walleye were 2nd with 91 points, the Stingrays were 3rd with 79 points, the Fort Wayne Komets were 4th with 71 points, the Stingray’s top players at the beginning of the weekend for forwards were Josh Wilkins with 37 assists and 56 points and Bear Hughes with 22 goals and 55 points. For defensemen, the top players were Connor Moore with 28 assists and 34 points and Michael Kim with seven goals and 32 points.

Vs. Cincinnati Cyclones

Ahead of the weekend’s first game for the Stingrays against the Cincinnati Cyclones, the Cyclones preceded the Stingrays in their record of 43-12-6-3 and the Stingrays being 37-21-4-1. The Cyclones also had a higher average of goals per game than the Stingrays, with 3.78 and the Stingrays having 3.56. Lastly, the Cyclones had a higher percentage on their penalty kill with 82.4%, and the Stingrays having 79.3%. The Stingrays exceeded the Cyclones in goals against per game at 2.81, shots per game at 35.51, shots against per game at 29.87, and their power play at 24.3%. The Cyclones are 2.81 goals against per game, 32.33 shots per game, 30.31 shots against per game, and 18.4% for their power play.

The boys were buzzing about this game! At only 2:09 into the first period, Stingrays’ Tarek Baker scored with assists from Connor Hall and #13 Ryan Leibold. Not long after, at 5:13, a goal was scored by Kevin O’Neil with assists from #27 Chaz Reddekopp and Brenton Maass. Barely halfway through the period, the Stinrays scored again at 9:23 by Hall with assists from Baker Shore and Leibold. At this time, the Cyclones decided to change their goaltenders, from Beck Warm, with 12 shots on goal and nine saves, to Mark Sinclair. Barely a minute later, at 10:34 into the first, with his second score of the game, O’Neil with assists from Connor Moore and Max Humitz. Now at 16:23, the teams take their first penalty, going to Josh Wilkins for hooking. O’Niel would finish a first-period hat-trick with 1:01 remaining as the Stingrays were up 5-0 after the opening period.

In the second period, they started a little slower. The first penalty of the period went to the Cyclones for their first one of this game, Sean Allen, for holding the stick. This put the Stingrays on the power play, and they were able to capitalize and have a goal at 12:27 by Bear Hughes, with assists coming from Austin Magera and Kim. Fortunately, unfortunately – depending on who you’re rooting for – the Cyclones took another penalty by Allen for holding at 14:15. The Stingrays were able to capitalize on this power play and get a goal at 14:32 by Magera with assists by Humitz and Kim. With a bit of a scuffle, Reddekopp went off for roughing at 17:14.

The Stingrays stayed on top of the Cyclones for the third period; Anthony Del Gaizo scored at 7:37, getting assists from Hughes and Magera. Not long after, at 12:54, Lee Lapid from the Cyclones took a high-sticking penalty. On the power play again, Del Gaizo scored his second goal at 13:50, with his assists coming from O’Neil and Wilkins. At this same time, Brandon Yeamans of the Cyclones received a misconduct for inciting, and the Stingrays received a bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct. Despite being shorthanded, the Stingrays were still able to score at 14:35 by Tarek Baker with an assist from Shore. At 18:09, with the night’s final goal coming from the Stingrays, Magera got assists from Humitz and Justin Florek.

The game’s final score was 11-0 for the South Carolina Stingrays. Sinclair, with the Cyclones, had a total of 33 shots on goal and 25 saves. Tyler Wall recorded his second shutout this game with 17 shots on goal and 17 saves. The three stars of the game were Connor Hall with his first career goal and two assists, Tyler Wall with his second shutout, and Kevin O’Neil with a hat trick and one assist.

Vs. Fort Wayne Komets:

At the start of this Saturday’s game, the Komets began with a record of 32-25-4-3, and the Stingrays had 38-21-4-1. The Komets were ahead in their goals per game with 3.81, and the Stingrays averaged 3.67. The Stingrays exceeded the Komets in their goals against per game with 2.77 to 3.83. The Komets outshoot the Stingrays with shots per game of 37.09 to 35.66. The Stingrays have a shot against per game of 29.67 and the Komets with 32.48. The Stingrays lead the power play at 25.3% and the Komets at 22.0%. Lastly, the Komets have a higher percentage in their penalty kill at 83.2%, and the Stingrays at 79.6%.

The Stingrays came in strong in the first period of the game. They were the first to be penalized at 7:44 as Tarek Baker went off for hooking. After this penalty, Kevin O’Neal scored the first goal at 10:18 with an assist from Justin Florek. Following this goal, the Komets took their first penalty at 13:11 as Oliver Cooper went off for tripping. Austin Magera scored the game’s second goal for the Stingrays at 15:58; his assists came from Bear Hughes and Connor Hall. This third goal of the period from Max Humitz was the final goal of the period and the game. His assists were from Florek and Michael Kim. The goaltender for the Komets, Ryan Parenteau, was able to hold it down for the rest of the game, having 41 total shots on goal with 38 saves. Clay Stevenson for the Stingrays had a shutout stopping all 24 shots he faced

Now, this doesn’t mean the rest of the game was uneventful; the players from both teams continued to play hard and fight strong. The following penalties were given to the Komets in the second period: Jacob Graves went off for tripping at 1:35. Anthony Petruzzelli went off for hooking at 10:44, and the last penalty of the second period was Darien Kielb at 17:22 as he went off for holding. In the third period, they had a little feist to it. At 9:18 for the Stingrays, Hughes had a minor penalty for tripping. Then, at 11:54, we had a fight with penalties for both teams. For the Stingrays, Anthony Del Gaizo received a minor for cross-checking and a major for fighting. Tristan Pelletier received only a major for fighting.

The game’s final score was 3-0 for the South Carolina Stingrays. The three stars of the game were Justin Florek with two assists for the night, Clay Stevenson with a shutout and 24 saves, and Kevin O’Neil with the game’s first goal.

Vs. Toledo Walleye:

For this Sunday afternoon game, the Walleye started with a record of 43-17-4-3, and the Stingrays with a record of 39-21-4-1. The Stingrays lead with the goals per game of 3.66 and the Walleye at 3.57. The Walleye lead with goals against per game at 2.42 and the Stingrays at 2.72. The Stingrays lead in shots per game at 35.74 and the Walleye at 31.90. The Walleye lead with the shots against per game at 28.85 and the Stingrays at 29.58. The Stingrays lead in their power play with 24.9% and the Walleye with 24.5%. The Walleye lead in the penalty kill with 85.5% and the Stingrays with 79.8%.

They were ending the weekend strong for a Sunday Funday! The Stingrays got the game’s first goal at 9:02 in the first by Kevin O’Neil unassisted. At 13:13 in the first, Bear Hughes went off for cross-checking, and the Walleye capitalized on the power play by scoring at 14:11 as Derek Daschke found the back of the net with assists by TJ Hensick and Gordie Green. Towards the end of the first period at 17:50, Hensick was sent to the box.

Right off the bat at 4:45 into the second period, Connor Hall went off for slashing. Michael Kim scored the Stingray’s second goal at 11:07 with assists from Baker Shore and Anthony Del Gaizo. Max Humitz scored their third goal at 15:41 with assists from Josh Wilkins and Benton Maass.

Starting the third period right, Wilkins of the Stingrays scored an unassisted goal at 2:49. Following the goal, at 5:43, Ryan Leibold of the Stingrays and Brett McKenzie of the Walleye both went off for roughing. Then at 12:41, Sam Craggs went off for roughing.

The final score of this Sunday’s game was 4-1 for the South Carolina Stingrays. Tyler Wall for the Stingrays made 23 saves #33 Sebastian Cossa for the Walleye made 38 saves. The three stars of the game were Josh Wilkins, with an unassisted goal and one assist; Michael Kim scoring one goal that put the Stingrays ahead in the second period; and Max Humitz scoring the game’s third goal in the second period.

Following the Clean Sweep:

After this weekend, the South Carolina Stingrays have clinched a spot for the Kelly Cup Playoffs. They are at the top of the South Division with a record of 40-21-4-1 and 85 points. They are 2nd in the Eastern Conference and 5th in the league.

The South Carolina Stingrays’ team leaders are Josh Wilkins, with 59 points, 20 goals, and 39 assists, and Bear Hughes, with 58 points, 23 goals, and 35 assists. Anthony Del Gaizo with 48 points, 17 goals, and 31 assists. Lastly, Kevin O’Neil with 44 points, 22 goals, and 22 assists.

The next South Carolina Stingrays game will be on Thursday, April 6th, against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits in Greenville, SC.

Eryn Duffy

Hi! My name is Eryn and I help cover the Savannah Ghost Pirates for InsideTheRink. To stay up to date on myself, the Ghost Pirates, and other teams around the league - follow me on my socials! Instagram: @eryn.duffy, Facebook: Eryn Duffy, Twitter: eryn_duffy_

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