Tom Wilson, Justin Williams, T.J. Oshie, Marcus Johansson, and Braden Holtby all...
Stingrays Playoff Preview: You Again?
Joe Devin (Sarah Hobday)
In the 72-game ECHL season, the South Carolina Stingrays saw no team more frequently than intra-state rival Greenville Swamp Rabbits. In their 14-game series, South Carolina defeated Greenville nine times, losing three times in overtime.
ROUND ONE: South Division Playoffs
No. 2 Greenville (40-26-5-1, 5-4-1-0 Last 10) vs. No. 3 South Carolina (40-28-3-1, 7-2-1-0 Last 10)
SEASON SERIES: South Carolina wins nine (one shootout, one overtime), Greenville wins five (three overtime)
SOUTH CAROLINA STINGRAYS
The Stingrays were not guaranteed anything going into the last week of the season. They ended the year on a four-game winning streak, and won seven of their final 10 games.
With the return of Rob Flick and Domenic Monardo, South Carolina is at near-full offensive strength to begin this series. Only Steven McParland is on loan to the AHL with last-place Binghamton. Flick led all Stingrays with 31 goals and 63 points, including two in the final game of the year against Cincinnati.
Rookies Olivier Archambault and John Parker have 16 and 15 goals respectively on the season, with Archambault only playing 35 games due to injuries.
Kelly Zajac centers the top line with Joe Devin by his side. Zajac fell off his point-per-game pace from last season, but still finished with 52 points (13 goals, 39 assists).
Andrew Cherniwchan finished the season hot, with six assists in the final three games. The fifth-year Stingray matched his ECHL-high in goals at 11, setting a career-high in assists with 18.
One player played 71 games this year, one short of a full season of work: forward/defenseman/enforcer Marcus Perrier. He fell a goal shy of his career-high, but Perrier’s 28 points (nine goals, 19 assists) are a career-high. His 235 penalty minutes are also the most of his career.
Late-season acquisition Kevin Dufour has fit in well with his new teammates. The Bowling Green product came to the Stingrays with nine games to go, scoring three goals and adding four assists. His breakaway goal against Atlanta served as the game-winner in South Carolina’s clinching game.
The defense is anchored by Joey Leach, Wade Epp, Max Nicastro and Danny Federico. Only Leach is much of an offensive threat on the first power play unit, while Wade Epp frequently serves up his slapshot for tip in front of the net.
Speaking of nets, Parker Milner won the starter’s net with his steady play through January and February. His 2.72 goals-against-average is the 11th-best in the ECHL and second among eastern conference goalies with only Cincy’s Michael Houser (2.58) better. Milner has a .900 save percentage on the year.
Zajac leads all Stingrays against the Swamp Rabbits with 16 points in 14 games. John Parker (11), and Joe Devin (10) follow Zajac for the points lead. Despite his recalls to the AHL, Devin has played all 14 games against Greenville.
GREENVILLE SWAMP RABBITS
Three of Greenville’s top-scorers — Angelo Miceli, Joe Houk, and Allan McPherson — all got loaned to the Texas Stars for last weekend’s games. They join Brandon Alderson, the Swamp Rabbits second leading-scorer.
On the team website, just 16 skaters are listed as active. Texas is out of the playoff picture, so they will likely return soon enough.
The Swamp Rabbits have played shorthanded often with the Hartford Wolf Pack calling many players to fill holes left from numerous injuries at the NHL level with the New York Rangers. For example, Greenville went through five goalies on the year.
With Hartford well out of the AHL playoff picture, they still have one week left to play. On top of that, the Rangers could still call up some players as Black Aces to practice with the team for their playoffs.
Of the players still with the team, former Boston University standout Ahti Oksanen is the top-scorer left with 52 points.
Spiro Goulakos, Matt Prapavessis, Justin DaSilva, and Desmond Bergin account for a steadying blue line. Houk is the leading-scorer among defensemen with 47 points (16 goals, 31 assists).
Jeff Malcolm and Mackenzie Skapski split the minutes in net fairly evenly throughout the season, with cameos from three other goaltenders. Malcolm finished the year 16-9-4-1, with a .904 save percentage and a 3.33 goals-against average. Skapski topped him in record with an 18-11-1-0 line, an identical save percentage, and a 3.38 GAA.
Game 1 – South Carolina at Greenville – Thursday, April 13 at 7 p.m.
Game 2 – South Carolina at Greenville – Friday, April 14 at 7 p.m.
Game 3 – Greenville at South Carolina – Monday, April 17 at 7:05 p.m.
Game 4 – Greenville at South Carolina – Tuesday, April 18 at 7:05 p.m.
Game 5* – South Carolina at Greenville – Friday, April 21 at 7 p.m.
Game 6* – Greenville at South Carolina – Monday, April 24 at 7:05 p.m.
Game 7* – South Carolina at Greenville – Tuesday, April 25 at 7 p.m.
NOTE: The AHL regular season ends April 15.
UPDATE: Playoff roster
#6 John Parker
#8 Joe Devin
#10 Olivier Archambault
#11 Scott Tanski
#13 Kevin Dufour
#17 Rob Flick
#19 Kelly Zajac
#20 Derek Arnold
#22 Patrick Gaul
#28 Andrew Cherniwchan
#40 Domenic Monardo
#5 Mitch Nylen
#7 Joey Leach
#15 Marcus Perrier
#26 Cody Corbett
#27 Wade Epp
#42 Steve Weinstein
#35 Parker Milner
#47 Adam Carlson
#2 Danny Federico
#44 Max Nicastro
#51 Trevor Gillies
Playoff Eligible List (1)
#16 Steven McParland