South Carolina Stingrays goaltender Ryan Zapolski was named the ECHL’s most valuable player on Friday.
Zapolski joins Frederic Cloutier (Louisiana, 2001-02) as the only players in ECHL history to win rookie of the year, goaltender of the year and MVP in the same season. He is the first rookie to win MVP honors since Cincinnati’s David Desharnais in 2007-08, and joins Cloutier and Scott Stirling (Atlantic City, 2003-04) as the only goaltenders to be named MVP.
The Erie, Pa., native led the ECHL this season with a 1.64 goals-against average, a .942 save percentage and eight shutouts, while finishing tied for second with 27 wins and fifth with 2,378 minutes played.
He set an ECHL single- season record for lowest goals-against average, while tying the mark for most shutouts in a season and tying the second-best save percentage in league history.
Zapolski also earned MVP honors at this year’s ECHL All-Star Game, stopping all 17 shots he faced in the second period of the 7-3 win against Colorado.
In 32 of his 38 appearances this season, Zapolski allowed two goals or less and was at his best down the stretch, going 12-3-2 over his last 17 games with five shutouts, a 1.22 goals-against average and a save percentage of .960.
Zapolski is the second Stingrays player in team history to be named ECHL Most Valuable Player. Forward Mike Ross won the award following a 110-point season (50 goals, 60 assists) in 1996-97.
The CCM Most Valuable Player award is presented annually to the player selected to be the most valuable to his team as determined in a vote of ECHL coaches, broadcasters, media relations directors and media members.