NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – The 2017-18 South Carolina Stingrays have officially become the top defensive team in the history of the ECHL. The Stingrays set three official ECHL records and one unofficial defensive record this season. The official records categories tracked by the ECHL are fewest goals against, lowest goals against average and fewest power-play goals allowed. The Stingrays also achieved the highest penalty kill percentage in a regular season by any ECHL team.
The blue-collar work ethic of the players and structured defensive systems used by the team have become synonymous with Stingrays hockey over the past several years. Although defensive in nature, the awards reflect the total team systems used by the team that are embraced by the forwards just as much as the defensemen. Of course, being backstopped by the best goaltending duo in the league has certainly been a key factor in making the awards possible.
The Stingrays allowed 153 goals this year, setting a new mark for fewest goals against. The previous record was held by the Louisiana IceGators, who held their competition to 156 goals in 2001-2002. The Stingrays had flirted with this record previously in 2015-2016 when they only allowed 162 goals. That mark is now fifth best in league history.
The new mark for lowest goals against average now stands at 2.13. The previous benchmark, 2.17, was also set by the Louisiana IceGators in 2001-02. The Stingrays also hold fifth place with a 2.25 mark from their 2015-16 campaign.
The penalty kill has long been a sense of pride in South Carolina’s locker room. By only allowing 27 power-play goals, they set the new record for fewest power-play goals allowed. They edged the Toledo Walleye, who set a new record last year by only allowing 29 goals. The 2014-15 Stingrays, who only allowed 32 power-play goals, now hold the fourth best mark in league history.
This year the Stingrays have set the new unofficial record for having the highest penalty kill percentage. Penalty kill percentages are not tracked as an official record and were not kept the first three years in the league. They first appeared on the official stats sheets starting in the 1991-1992 season. The Stingrays were successful on the penalty kill 90.5% of the time this year, including a staggering 92.3% on the road. The previous top percentage was set by the Alaska Aces in the 2008-2009 season when they stopped their opponents 89.3% of the time.
The high levels of defense have led to success on the ice for the Stingrays this year. They have set franchise records for numbers of wins and total points in a season. The 48 wins achieved this year passed the previous record of 47 set by the 2007-08 squad. The 48-16-7-1 record garnered 104 points for the Stingrays. This surpassed the 100 points won by the 1996-1997 team, propelling them on their way to winning the first of the club’s three Kelly Cup championships.
The Stingrays open play in the Kelly Cup Playoffs against the Orlando Solar Bears on Thursday night.