At this rate, Jeff Jakaitis might never get back into the net for the South Carolina Stingrays.
Pink in the Rink NightWho: Greenville vs. StingraysWhen: Today, 7 p.m.Where: North Charleston ColiseumTickets: 744-2248
The unofficial policy recently for Stingrays head coach Spencer Carbery has been to let his goalies play until they lose a game.
It’s been a while since Ryan Zapolski has lost a game for the Stingrays. It’s been a while since he’s allowed a puck to cross his goal line as well.
Zapolski stopped all 32 shots he faced to record his second-straight shutout and his ECHL-leading sixth of the season to lead the Stingrays past the Greenville Road Warriors, 2-0, on Friday night before a crowd of 3,436 at the North Charleston Coliseum.
It was the third straight win for the Stingrays and their nine in the last 11 games as South Carolina improved to 29-23-5 (63 points) to remain in 7th place in the ECHL’s Eastern Conference. The Road Warriors fell to 30-19-6 (66 points).
Zapolski, who leads the ECHL in goals-against average (1.75) and save percentage (.937) has allowed just one goal in his last three games. For the record, Zapolski has allowed just one goal in the last 89 shots he has faced, while winning three straight games.
To say that Zapolski is playing well would be an understatement.
“He’s been phenomenal,” Carbery said. “He was outstanding again tonight. I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but he made some huge saves, especially in the second period. He’s seeing the puck well and moving really well. He just doesn’t give the shooters a lot to shoot at.”
Zapolski, who improved to 19-9-0, deflected much of the credit toward his teammates.
“The guys are playing so well in front of me,” Zapolski said. “I’m not the only guy playing well right now. I’ve felt comfortable with the defense the entire season. They make my job so much easier. If there’s a rebound they’re there to clear it out. The success we’re having defensively is because of the guys in front of me.”
The Stingrays have recorded points in 10 of their last 11 games and Friday night were able to win without key players Tyler McNeely, Hunter Bishop, Matt Beca and Kevin Quick, who are all playing in the American Hockey League, out of the lineup. Bishop was called up to Manchester on Friday morning.
The return of Andrew Sackrison, Ryan Hayes and Tyler Johnson, who have been out for extended periods of time with injuries, to the lineup certainly helped the Stingrays cause against the Road Warriors.
“We got some fresh bodies into the lineup and that helped,” Carbery said. “It wasn’t our best game, but at this point in the season it was a huge win and two big points for us.”
The Stingrays, who have just two wins against the Road Warriors in eight games this season, play Greenville twice more this weekend. Tonight’s game at the North Charleston Coliseum in the Stingrays annual Pink in the Rink night to help breast cancer research.
“We can’t rest of what we did tonight,” Carbery said. “There’s still a lot of hockey left this weekend, but it was a good start for us.”
Jay Silvia gave the Stingrays 1-0 lead in the second period when he redirected a Luka Vidmar shot from the point.
Stingrays forward Phil Mangan provided the only other scoring in the game when Andrew Cherniwchan hit him with a beautiful pass as he was coming out of the penalty box in neutral ice.
Mangan split the Road Warriors defenders and back-handed a shot past Greenville goalie Connor Knapp for the score.
“That doesn’t happen very often were you get a pass like that coming out of the penalty box,” Mangan said. “I know (Knapp) likes to go down early, so I was just trying to get something up high on him.”
Greenville 0 0 0—0
Stingrays 0 1 1—2
First Period: No goals. Penalties: Reynolds Grn (tripping), 9:45; Lee Grn (slashing ), 16:36.
Second Period: 1. SC, Silvia 1 (Vidmar, Courtnall), 15:56. Penalties:Vaughan, SC (slashing ), 6:57; Courtnall, SC (hooking), 12:16; Connolly, G (roughing), 16:15; Bidlevskii, SC (roughing), 16:15; Mangan, SC (high-sticking), 19:49.
Third Period: 2. SC, 12 (Cherniwchan, Bidlevskii), 1:58. Penalties: Delisle, G (cross-checking), 12:08; MacLeod, SC (diving), 12:08; Stamler, G (fighting - major), 18:19; MacLeod, SC (fighting - major), 18:19.
Shots on Goal: Stingrays 8-7-7-22; Greenville: 5-17-10-32. Penalties: Stingrays 6-15; Greenville 5-13. Power Play: Stingrays 0 for 2; Greenville 0 for 3 Goalies: Stingrays – Ryan Zapolski (19-9-0) 32 shos,
32 saves. Greenville – Connor Knapp (1-2-0) 22 shots, 20 saves. Att: 3,163.
Stingrays' Ryan Zapolski saves a shot against Greenville Friday, Feb. 22, 2013 at the North Charleston Coliseum. (Paul Zoeller/postandcourier.com)×
Dogs got to enjoy the game against Greenville during bring your dog to the game night Friday, Feb. 22, 2013 at the North Charleston Coliseum. (Paul Zoeller/postandcourier.com)×
The Stingrays' Patrick Gaul shoots the puck past Greenville's Paul Lee, middle, and Jordie Johnston Friday, Feb. 22, 2013 at the North Charleston Coliseum. (Paul Zoeller/postandcourier.com)×
Dogs watch theStingrays play Greenville during bring your dog to the game night Friday, Feb. 22, 2013 at the North Charleston Coliseum. (Paul Zoeller/postandcourier.com)×
The Stingrays' Andrew Cherniwchan and Greenville's Steven Delisle go after the puck Friday, Feb. 22, 2013 at the North Charleston Coliseum. (Paul Zoeller/postandcourier.com)×