The South Carolina Stingrays might be literally limping into the Kelly Cup playoffs.
South Carolina Stingrays vs. Gwinnett Gladiators
No. 3 Gwinnett Gladiators vs. No. 6 South Carolina StingraysGame 1: April 5 at Gwinnett (7:30 p.m.)Game 2: April 6 at Gwinnett (7:05 p.m.)Game 3: April 10 at South Carolina (7:05 p.m.)Game 4: April 12 at South Carolina (7:05 p.m.)*Game 5: April 13 at South Carolina (7:05 p.m.)*Game 6: April 16 at Gwinnett (7:05 p.m.)*Game 7: April 17 at Gwinnett (7:05 p.m.)*-if necessary
The Stingrays will take on the Gwinnett Gladiators in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal playoff series beginning next weekend.
The series features a 2-3-2 format and begins at The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga., with Game 1 on Friday (7:35 p.m.) and Game 2 on Saturday (7:05 p.m.).
The Stingrays will be without several key players, including defenseman Ryan McGinnis, who suffered a season-ending knee injury this past Thursday night against Greenville. Defenseman Cam Brodie is also expected to be out of the lineup, suf fight through the injuries and still come out with good results. That’s one of the strengths of our team.”
Playing defense is another. The Stingrays gave up an ECHL-low 171 goals during the regular season.
The goaltending tandem of Ryan Zapolski, an ECHL first team selection last week, and Jeff Jakaitis, the reigning ECHL goalie of the year, have been a key for the Stingrays all season.
“You build a team from the net out and we think we’ve got the two best goaltenders in the league in Ryan and Jeff,” Carbery said.
“We’re going to have to be very solid defensively against Gwinnett. They have three lines that can score. I think their forward group is second to none in our league.”
The Stingrays finished the regular season series against the Gladiators with a 6-6-2 record. This is the fifth postseason series between the two teams with the Stingrays holding a 3-1 all-time series record and 9-8 all-time postseason record against their South Division rivals. This is an ECHL record 19th time the Stingrays have made the postseason.
While the Gladiators’ roster is littered with familiar faces from the playoff series a year ago, only Andrew Cherniwchan and Damon Kipp are left for the Stingrays.
Since Jan. 20 when South Carolina was in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, the Stingrays have been one of the hottest teams in the ECHL, going 19-5-4 over their final 28 games.
“We’ve put together a nice little run the last couple of months,” said Stingrays captain Kevin Quick, who was a member of Florida Kelly Cup championship last season. “It kind of reminds me of the way we were playing in Florida going into the playoffs.”
The series moves to the North Charleston Coliseum for Game 3 on April 10 (7 p.m.) and Game 4 on April 12 (7 p.m.) and, if necessary, Game 5 on April 13 (7 p.m.). The series shifts back to Gwinnett for Game 6 (7 p.m.) on April 16 and Game 7 on April 17 (7 p.m.), if necessary.