South Carolina Stingrays in playoff hole, focus on Game 3 of ECHL series against Wheeling Nailers

Stingrays Marc Hagel is covered by Gwinnett Gladiators Josh Currie Sunday November 17, 2013 at the North Charleston Coliseum. Grace Beahm/Staff Buy this photo

South Carolina Stingrays coach Spencer Carbery isn't worried about Game 4 or Game 5 of the best-of-seven Kelly Cup series against the Wheeling Nailers this week.

Kelly Cup Playoffs

Eastern Conference Quarterfinal

Wheeling Nailers vs. South Carolina Stingrays

Game 1: Wheeling 3, South Carolina 0

Game 2: Wheeling 3, South Carolina 2, OT

Game 3: Wednesday: South Carolina at Wheeling, 7 p.m.

Game 4: Friday: South Carolina at Wheeling, 7 p.m.

Game 5: x-Saturday: South Carolina at Wheeling, 7 p.m.

Game 6: x-Tuesday: Wheeling at South Carolina, 7:05 p.m.

Game 7: x-Wednesday: April 30: Wheeling at South Carolina, 7:05 p.m.

x - if necessary

Carbery said the Stingrays can't afford to think too far ahead after losing the first two games of their best-of-seven series at home.

Game 3 of the series is set for Wednesday night at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling W.Va. Game 4 and Game 5, if necessary, will be played on Friday and Saturday nights respectively. The Stingrays will have to win two of the next three games at WesBanco Arena to bring the series back to the North Charleston Coliseum.

"We're not even thinking about Game 4 or Game 5," Carbery said. "Our mentality, our total focus, has to be on Game 3. That's the most important game of the season for us at this point. We can't think about all the scenarios or getting the series back to the North Charleston Coliseum. That has to be our approach."

The Stingrays were one of the top road teams in the ECHL this season with 21 victories away from the North Charleston Coliseum. Only Ontario (23) and Reading (22) won more road games than the Stingrays during the regular season.

"It's not like we've been a bad road team," Carbery said. "We just can't get ahead of ourselves. Our entire focus has to be on Game 3. Right now, we're up here to win one game, that's all."

Carbery isn't sure who will be the starting goalie in Game 3 - Allen York or Pheonix Copley. York started in Game 1, making 30 saves in a 3-0 loss to the Nailers. Copley looked strong in Game 2, stopping 36 of the 39 shots in his Kelly Cup debut.

"Pheonix looked very comfortable in net and gave us a chance to win," Carbery said. "He has a very calm demeanor. Nothing seems to bother him. I thought he played well, but we were better in front of him. We feel very good about both goalies and we'll make a decision on who starts Wednesday morning."

The return of Marc Hagel should help the Stingrays. Hagel played in 21 games for the Stingrays before getting called up to the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League. He spent the rest of the season with the Wild, scoring eight goals and adding seven assists in 46 games. Hagel had 17 points (nine goals, eight assists) with the Stingrays.

"Marc's return should give us a little more balance up front," Carbery said. "He proved he can score in this league when he was with us and I think he has the kind of game that can be successful in the playoffs."

Carbery said he isn't sure which line Hagel will play on in Game 3. While Hagel's return should help bolster the Stingrays' scoring punch, others need to step up, Carbery said.

"Just because Marc is back doesn't mean that we're automatically going to win hockey games," Carbery said. "We need everyone pulling in the same direction. Will Marc Hagel help us? Absolutely. But he can't do it by himself."

The status of Scott Campbell and Patrick Gaul is uncertain. Campbell, who missed the last three weeks with an undisclosed injury, has been practicing with the team and is listed as "questionable" for Game 3. Gaul, who played in Game 1, is "doubtful," Carbery said.

Scooter Vaughan, Chris Langkow and David LeNeveu, who were on the Stingrays' original playoff roster, will not return from the AHL during the postseason. Forward Andrew Cherniwchan, who is currently in the AHL with Providence, could return, but is not expected to play against Wheeling.

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