NORTH CHARLESTON, SC – The South Carolina Stingrays have been strangers to their fans so far this year, having been on on the road for eight out of ten games to start the season. The Stingrays fared well, though, going 4-4 on the road and winning both games at home. They have just one more test on the road before getting to enjoy a four-game mini homestand.
The Stingrays will face their opening night opponent, the Jacksonville Icemen, for a daytime matchup on Thursday. The Stingrays have seemed to struggle in daytime games the past few years.
“Our guys are really excited. For them, they really aren’t looking at the start time, or the puck drop time. They are looking at the opponent we are playing and the opportunity we have to make a statement on what kind of team we are. They believe we should have won our first game of the season. So there’s a little redemption, a bad taste in their mouth and they want to get that (win),” said head coach Spiros Anastas.
Redemption in Allen
The Stingrays have been rolling a bit as of late, enjoying a two-game sweep of the Allen Americans last weekend. The tough-fought Kelly Cup Championship loss in game seven at Allen in 2015 still lingers in the memories of those there. Patrick Gaul and Marcus Perrier were on the ice that night, and Adam Morrison was also a big part of that team before missing the playoffs due to a late season injury.
“There was some emotion in it. Going into the 3rdperiod on Saturday, we were only up 2-1.” Anastas continued, “ … I held a couple of guys accountable on some things we needed to tighten up through the first two periods and then I just straight up asked those three guys, ‘do you want this sweep or not? ‘They all kind of stepped up and might have been three of our best players in that last 20 minutes. It was great to get that for them. Gaulsy in jest said it turned out being a nine-game series that they won, it just took them a few years to do it. He was happy about it for sure.”
Besse Earns Honors
Part of the reason the Stingrays were able to sweep the Americans was due to the superb play of ECHL Player of the Week, Grant Besse. He had three goals, three assists and was a +4 in the two game set. Besse was signed by the Stingrays’ affiliate, the Hershey Bears, this summer to an AHL deal. The Stingrays quickly traded for his ECHL rights, sending Tayler Cammarata to Norfolk as part of the deal. Besse hasn’t disappointed since his arrival in Charleston, as he is tied for the league lead with 17 points (8G, 9A) and also leads the league in shots on goal with 53. He and his linemates, Andrew Cherniwchan (6G, 8A) and Jonathan Charbonneau (3G, 8A) are 1, 2 and 3 respectively for the Stingrays in scoring.
After a returning from Allen, in a bit of a surprise move, the Stingrays traded forward Jake Kamrass to Fort Wayne for veteran forward Garret Ross. Kamrass had been a point-per-game forward since joining the Stingrays late last season, and had posted five goals and three assists through ten games this year.
“We felt we needed a bit more grit up front and Garret Ross definitely brings that,” said Anastas.
Anastas went on to explain that he believed the move would help both players. He thinks that Kamrass will be able to get top line minutes in Ft. Wayne instead of the second line minutes he got in SC, and that he fully expects Kamrass to be playing some games in the AHL in the near future.
He likes having Ross in place on the second line with Sam Fioretti and Christian Horn. Anastas believes adding a veteran presence to that line will help keep the younger players more consistent and they’ll keep each other accountable on the ice. He thinks Ross can be a point-per-game player in the ECHL, and likened him to former Stingray Rob Flick. Flick, Ross and former Stingray Jeremy Morin all played together on the Rockford IceHogs, and when Anastas coached against them, he thought Ross was the most dangerous of the three at the time.
The Stingrays return home on November 10th to face the Orlando Solar Bears. The teams traded wins in the first week of the season scoring a combined 20 goals. Both teams have continued the offensive onslaught, and are tied for second in the league for scoring. It will be the first time for fans to see their team in person in three weeks, and the contest should be an exciting one to watch.