NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – For the first time in team history, the South Carolina Stingrays replaced a departed head coach with someone from outside the organization. Spiros Anastas was named the eighth head coach in franchise history at a press conference at the North Charleston Coliseum Tuesday afternoon.
Anastas brings forth a wide variety of coaching experiences. He has been an assistant coach in the NCAA, AHL and IHF World Championship play for South Korea. He has been and a head coach for The University of Lethbridge and on IHF World Championship teams for South Korea and Estonia.
Stingrays President Rob Concannon said there were over 40 interested parties in the coaching vacancy with the Stingrays, and he initially spoke with Anastas two years ago after the departure of Spencer Carbery. The two had kept in touch since then, with it leading to Anastas getting an interview and the job this time around. Concannon said there were no clear-cut favorites coming into the process and that assistant coach Steve Bergin interviewed well for the job. Bergin, who served as Ryan Warsofsky’s assistant for two years, will remain on board and serve as Anastas’ assistant this year.
“They are super excited to be working with one another,” said Concannon. “And we feel that they complement each other well and they are going to do a terrific job this year.”
Anastas was very complimentary of the organization from the top down during his remarks today.
“This is an organization that believes in people and gives people chances. I am really happy they chose me. So when someone takes a chance on you it’s always humbles you and gets you excited but at the same time it challenges you. It’s going to be a challenge for me. I’m ready to step up and take that challenge head on.”
With his experience in North America and international play, he has had to become comfortable with both styles of play. When asked if he feels more comfortable with a North American or European style, Anastas said he didn’t have a favorite.
“It’s just an opportunity to learn. You expand your horizons. You can do a hybrid and incorporate both. We want to have a fast team here, (one) that plays with a lot of speed and tempo. I grew up playing the North American style and coaching in the NCAA and AHL. But I’d say I am a guy that’s always open to learning and trying new things.”
From humble beginnings as an NCAA Division III player at Lebanon Valley College, he has quickly become a force in the coaching world. Playing and coaching for a combined six years in the shadow of the Hershey Bears, Anastas gained a valuable mentor in Lebanon Valley alum and former Bears General Manager Doug Yingst. After two years as an assistant at his alma mater, he caught the attention of former NHL coach Andy Murray who brought him on as an assistant for Western Michigan University. After a year, he had made enough of an impression in the coaching circles to be made an assistant of the Grand Rapids Griffins. He spent two years in Grand Rapids winning a Calder Cup and most importantly, meeting fellow assistant coach Jim Paek. The two time Stanley Cup champion was instrumental in broadening Anastas’ coaching experiences in international circles.
When Anastas left Grand Rapids for a head coaching position at the University of Lethbridge for the 2014-15 season, Paek enlisted his help with the South Korean national teams. He served as an assistant coach for the South Korean National team and head coach of the South Korean U18 team for two seasons. He led the U18 team to a promotion from Division 2 to Division 1, and the South Korean men’s team also earned a promotion from the Division 1B to Division 1A group.
He left the South Korean program and joined the Estonian program in 2016-17. After serving a year as a consultant, he took the reins of the Estonian U18 and U20 teams and served as the Head Coach of the national team.
Anastas is now focusing in on filling out the rest of the roster for the upcoming year. Several player signing announcements are expected this week and next. The Stingrays have signed 12 forwards and three defensemen for the 2018-19 season. However, they have only signed two of their eight qualifying offers and only one veteran player at this point. Anastas said he is going to focus in on signing several key players now that he is officially in the role and moving forward towards the upcoming season.