Final Regular Season Records:
South Carolina Stingrays: 40-28-3-1 (84 pts — 3rd in South Division, 7th in Eastern Conference)
Manchester Monarchs: 37-24-7-4 (85 pts — 4th in North Division, 6th in Eastern Conference)
How They Got Here:
South Division Semis: Defeated Greenville 4-2
South Division Finals: Defeated Florida 4-1
North Division Semis: Defeated Adirondack 4-2
North Division Finals: Defeated Brampton 4-2
Series Schedule (Home Team in BOLD CAPS and all times local):
Game 1 – Friday, May 12 – Manchester at SOUTH CAROLINA 7:05 pm ET
Game 2 – Saturday, May 13 – Manchester at SOUTH CAROLINA 7:05 pm ET
Game 3 – Monday, May 15 – Manchester at SOUTH CAROLINA 7:05 pm ET
Game 4 – Friday, May 19 – South Carolina at MANCHESTER 7 pm ET
*Game 5 – Saturday, May 20 – South Carolina at MANCHESTER 6 pm ET
*Game 6 – Monday, May 22 -South Carolina at MANCHESTER 7 pm ET
*Game 7 – Wednesday, May 24 – South Carolina at MANCHESTER 7 pm ET
*=> If Necessary
Season Series Recap:
The Monarchs and Stingrays met five times during the 2016-17 year. The Stingrays won three out of five in the season series, including two games at North Charleston Coliseum. The Stingrays outscored 18-17 in the five meetings.
South Carolina was led by forward Rob Flick who had 10 points (five goals, five assists) along with Domenic Monardo who notched eight points (two goals, six assists).
Manchester was led by forwards Cory Ward and Rihards Bukarts in the five games against the Stingrays, each picking up six points. Bukarts led the Monarchs with four goals, while Daniel Doremus and Connor Hardowa each assisted on four tallies.
How South Carolina Wins:
Rob Flick leads the Stingrays in points with seven goals and six assists for 13 points and Stingrays goaltender Parker Milner second in the league with a goals against average of 1.83, a save percentage of .932 and a record of 8-3-0. Monardo has been on the scoresheet in 10 of the team’s 11 postseason contests, including seven points (three goals, four assists) during the five games against Florida in the South Division Finals.
Both Flick and Monardo will need some help, however. Players like Steven McParland, Patrick Gaul, and Olivier Archambault will need to step up their offensive games. Whether that comes with different line combinations or a wrinkle in head coach Ryan Warsofsky‘s systems will determine how successful South Carolina will be in their third straight East Finals appearance.
How Manchester Wins:
There is no doubt that Sam Brittain has been the backbone of the Monarchs defensive resurgence in these playoffs. After two rounds, Brittain ranks fourth in the league with a goals against average of 2.09, has a save percentage of .931 to go with a record of 8-3-1.
Offensively, Matt Leitner leads the Monarchs in scoring with six goals and eight assists for 14 points. He is joined by Quentin Shore, who has 11 points (4G, 7A) in 12 games. On the back end, Colton Saucerman (former Stingray) leads Monarchs defensemen with six points (1G, 5A) in 12 games played.
If Manchester is to win this series, they may have to do it through the special teams route. On the man-advantage, the Monarchs have the second best power play of teams remaining in the playoffs, scoring on 19.2 percent of their power play chances. South Carolina features the best penalty kill among the remaining playoff teams, allowing just four power play goals on 52 opportunities.
Who wins this series?