Former Caps defenseman John Erskine didn't get the best goodbye in team...
South Carolina Stingrays v. The World. Winner: SC Stingrays. #BOOM
Sometime in the early hours of tomorrow morning, the South Carolina Stingrays are expected to arrive home in North Charleston, South Carolina. They carry with them the laurels of victory, six wins daisy-chained together beginning with the Wheeling Nailers on January 7th and wrapping things off neatly with a 4-3 victory over the Reading Royals.
The run extends through everything but the first game of the season’s longest road trip – twelve days of busses and team bonding that began on January 4th, two days before the AHL Outdoor Classic. That’s nine days longer than the three-day road trips rookie Brett Flemming was taking last year in the OHL.
Prospect Power (Rookie Variety):
Three members of the Capitals system are currently playing with the Stingrays, and the two rookies have had a solid run on the current road trip.
Philipp Grubauer – Goalie Extraordinaire
Grubauer‘s record on this trip has been fantastic, putting an ugly and awkward December behind him. He’s gone 5-0-0 in of five games in January, with none extending past regulation. His stats have certainly benefited from the boost: he’s currently sitting fourth in the ECHL for GAA (2.20) and fifth in Save % (0.921). Despite letting in three goals to the Reading Royals, Spencer Carbery (Head Coach of the Stingrays) made a point of acknowledging in a post-game interview that he didn’t consider any of the goals to be a result of Grubauer’s error.
Brett Flemming – Recently Returned Defenseman
Up until December 30th, Brett was on temporary loan to the Hershey Bears. Since returning to the Stingrays, the rookie has had a strong showing. He earned his first ECHL assist in his second ECHL game, playing against Wheeling on the 7th. His first ECHL goal was scored today in the second period against Reading, and came with a complimentary assist on the game-winner scored by the Stingrays’ scoring leader Pierre-Luc O’Brien (17G – 11A – 28P).
The third Caps prospect currently assigned to the Stingrays is Dustin Stevenson, a sophomore defensemen of the 6′ 5″ variety who’s still finding his legs in the pro-level game. He’s playing solidly, but has yet to appear on the scoresheet for more than incidentals.
Big Accomplishments, Bigger Dreams
While they’ve earned plenty of applause during this particular tour, the Stingrays have their eyes on a bigger prize than sixth in the Eastern Conference and within three points of the division lead. They have a few days off now, to rest and recover from the road, and everyone was looking forward to it when they piled into the bus in Reading.
On Friday, they will begin a six-game home stand in which they’ll be given a chance to prove that this winning streak was well and truly earned. They’ll have a new face in the line-up, as the recently acquired Joshua “Podge” Turnbull (picked up by the team when Danick Paquette was reassigned to the Utah Grizzlies), and there are hopes that those on the injured list will begin to return to active duty before the end of the month.
The Stingrays have put on a heck of a show these past few weeks, just as the Bears and Caps have in their own recent winning streaks. Today, they have most emphatically earned the hashtag #rainbowsandkittens. Here’s hoping they can keep up the good vibes!
Update (1/17/2012): A complete set of pictures from the game can be found here on flickr.