South Carolina Stingrays coach Spencer Carbery has a luxury that few other coaches in the ECHL have right now — the ability to pick between two of the league’s top goalies.
Gwinnett at South Carolina
Gwinnett at South CarolinaWhen: Tonight, 7:05 p.m.Where: North Charleston ColiseumSeason series: Tied, 5-5-1.Tickets: 744-2248
When Carbery fills out his lineup card for tonight’s game against Gwinnett (7:05 p.m. at North Charleston Coliseum), he gets to choose between two of the top goalies in the ECHL in Ryan Zapolski and Jeff Jakaitis.
Zapolski or Jakaitis would be No. 1 goalies on most teams in the league.
Zapolski leads the ECHL in goals against average (1.69) and save percentage (.939) and is currently on a shutout streak of more than 184 minutes and counting.
Zapolski’s shutout streak is second in franchise history, behind Shane Connelly’s 220-minute scoreless stretch during the 2009-10 season. Zapolski, who is 20-9-0 this season, has not given up a goal in his last three starts. He is one of five goalies in ECHL history to record three straight shutouts. Zapolski’s seven shutouts this season are second most in ECHL history and one shy of tying the single-season mark.
Although Jakaitis hasn’t played in enough games — just 15 since joining the Stingrays in December — to qualify for ECHL’s league statistics, his 2.32 goals against average would rank seventh and his .927 save percentage would be second only to Zapolski. Oh, and by the way, he’s also the reigning ECHL goalie of the year.
Figuring out who to put in the net each night isn’t always an easy decision for Carbery, but he’s not complaining.
“It’s a great situation to be in,” Carbery said. “It doesn’t really matter who starts for us — Ryan or Jeff — he’s going to give us a great chance to win. I’m not sure who’s going to start (tonight). I might not make up my mind until after the morning skate.”
Carbery doesn’t anticipate getting back any players from the American Hockey League. Hunter Bishop (Manchester), Matt Beca (Charlotte) Alden Hirschfeld (Providence), Tyler McNeely (Lake Erie) and Kevin Quick (Rockford) are not expected to be in the lineup tonight against the Gladiators.
“Anything can happen, but we’re not counting on any of those guys coming back,” Carbery said.