Stingrays Stop By, Add Reading to Current Win Streak

Posted December 7, 2014

(Caps prospect Caleb Herbert fends off Reading’s Marcus Caruso while moving the puck through the neutral zone. All Photos Credit: M. Richter)

When the South Carolina Stingrays hit the ice in Reading this weekend (and wiped the floor with their hosts, the Reading Royals), it was a case of affiliate vs former-affiliate. To be more precise, it was a case of former-former-affiliate vs former-affiliate.  After a two year fling with the Royals, the Caps have welcomed the Stingrays back into the fold, while the Royals are now tepidly enthusiastic members of the Philadelphia Flyers organization.

South Carolina entered the evening riding on a four-game winning streak, and an unusually successful power-play ensured that they left the ice with that streak now at a season-high five games.  The Stingrays scored three of their four goals on the power-play within the first 22 minutes of play (Marcus Perrier and Braden Pimm in the first period, Wayne Simpson early in the second).  While the Royals pulled themselves together in the second half, with two goals and an impressive third period which included 22 shots on goal, they never managed to close the gap to less than a two goal differential.  The Stingrays sealed the deal with a final goal by Joe Devin just 2:42 into the final frame.

Since this is the Stingrays’ only trip to Pennsylvania this season, it’s a good time to take a look at how the Caps prospects on the roster are doing.  It’s a small crowd this year, with only two contracted prospects on the roster, and a third who’s currently under contract with Hershey, though the Capitals retain his rights.

Amongst those under contract with the Caps, Caleb Herbert is by far the most promising.  The forward is in his first professional season, and has spent most of his time until now with the Hershey Bears of the AHL.  He was transferred to the Stingrays Saturday morning, though it’s unclear how long he’ll be with the ECHL team.  He was an active presence on the ice in his first ECHL game, but was primarily a ghost on the scoresheet.  It’s going to take a few more games before it becomes clear if there’s a consistent performance issue or if he’s just taking some time to settle in.

Meanwhile, goaltender Brandon Anderson is in the last year of his entry-level contract (ELC) with the Caps, and is currently vying for playing time with the other two healthy goalies on the Stingrays’ roster.  In the past two games, he spent one on the bench and one providing color commentary for the team’s radio broadcast as a healthy scratch.  He’s played five games for the Stingrays this season, and has no wins to show for it.  While the team itself got off to a slow start, most of his time in net has come after they started getting their feet under them.  Veteran Jeff Jakaitis has been taking most of the starts, and also racking up most of the team’s recent wins.

Garrett Haar emerges from a mutual-takedown victorious during a game against the Reading Royals.

Garrett Haar emerges from a mutual-takedown victorious during a game against the Reading Royals.

Garrett Haar is the third Caps prospect on the Stingrays, though he’s in an unusual situation.  After being drafted in 2011, he played two years of NCAA hockey before spending a year in the CHL with the Portland Winterhawks.  Earlier this year, he was signed by the Hershey Bears to an AHL/ECHL contract, and has been assigned to the Stingrays since the start of the season.  His performance this season has been decent, with the expected learning curve for a defenseman entering the professional leagues.  The Caps retain the right to sign him to an NHL ELC, but between the situation with his departure from Western Michigan University and the current depth on the blueline, they’re giving him some time to shake out before committing three years of resources in his direction.

While it’s early in the season, it’s worth noting that the victory last night puts the Stingrays into 8th place in the Eastern Conference, though the three teams directly below them have several games in hand at the moment (including the 10th place Reading Royals).

The Stingrays and the Royals, now ‘division rivals’ due to the summer’s reorganization of the ECHL, will meet twice more during the regular season.  The first is a rematch this afternoon (5:05PM Puck Drop), the second half of a back-to-back that closes out the Stingrays’ current three-game road trip.  The second will be hosted by the Stingrays in Charleston on Saturday, January 24.