NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – Hockey season is swinging into full gear as the South Carolina Stingrays 2019-2020 regular season is rapidly approaching. The Stingrays currently have 11 forwards and six defensemen under contract. Of those 17 players, only four were on last year’s opening day roster and three others joined late in the spring. The 2019 Prospect Showcase kicked things off for the Washington Capitals organization, and now that it has concluded, select players have reported back to Washington and the Capitals training camp has started.
The Stingrays were represented by forward Mitchell Vanderlaan at the Prospect Showcase in Nashville. Vanderlaan was the only ECHL-signed player for the Capitals at the showcase. The brief tournament pitted prospects from the Capitals, Carolina Hurricanes, Nashville Predators, and Tampa Bay Lightning against each other. Vanderlaan earned playing time and was on the ice for the 7-2 blowout loss to Tampa Bay. Former Stingrays broadcaster and current Voice of the Hershey Bears Zack Fisch called the games for the Capitals and had to say this about Vanderlaan:
“Vanderlaan got into the final game at the Showcase and I didn’t feel he looked out of place at all. He had one really nice opportunity and was engaged throughout the game. The contest got away from the Capitals late, but Vanderlaan’s board play and ability to get in on the forecheck stood out to me. It’s nice to see the organization give a player on an ECHL signing like him a look in a Capitals sweater. It had to be quite an experience for him.”
Goalie Logan Thompson, who is on an AHL deal with the Hershey Bears, played in the second game against the Predators. Thompson is expected to spend the majority of the season in Charleston, sharing the crease with Parker Milner. Thompson played extremely well in the 3-2 overtime loss, making many impressive saves on his way to stopping 40 of 43 shots. His performance caught they eyes of many observers of the game, and it would not surprise me if he is in contention to be the number three depth goalie for the Bears.
While no ECHL-contracted players are at the Capitals camp, several players that may see time in Charleston are participating. All but four of the Bears’ AHL contracted players are at camp: Milner, forward Cole Ully, and defensemen Tariq Hammond & Ed Wittchow. That does not necessarily mean that they are ticketed for the Stingrays, but it probably points the needle in that direction. Players at the Capitals camp that are likely to see time in Charleston are Thompson, defenseman Tommy Hughes, and forward Matthew Weis. Other players may also see time in Charleston, but due to the four veteran player limit in the ECHL, assignments may have to be rotated. The Stingrays already have veteran forwards Andrew Cherniwchan and Dan DeSalvo signed.
Players will ultimately trickle down from Washington to Hershey and from Hershey to South Carolina over the next three weeks to round out the Stingrays roster. Hershey has yet to release their training camp schedule and roster, but it is expected to open around September 23. The Stingrays expect to have all of their players not at AHL camps in town by September 30, but have also not officially announced the opening of their training camp yet. They will play a preseason home-and-home series with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits starting at the Carolina Ice Palace on October 4 and moving to Greenville on the October 5.