Good teams find ways to win games when they are not at full strength.
Greenville Road Warriors at South Carolina Stingrays
When: Sunday, 3 p.m.
Where: North Charleston Coliseum
Season series: South Carolina leads, 3-0-1.
It’s a lesson that South Carolina Stingrays coach Spencer Carbery learned during his playing days in the ECHL.
As a developmental league, few teams in the ECHL are ever at full strength. Injuries, call-ups to the American Hockey League and defections to Europe often conspire to leave teams undermanned for weeks and months at a time.
The Stingrays are going through such a cycle as they prepare to host Greenville at 3 p.m. Sunday at the North Charleston Coliseum.
The Stingrays were off to the best start in franchise history during the first month of the season. The Stingrays had the best winning percentage in the ECHL through the first 11 games of the season. But then in rapid succession, the team lost captain Kevin Quick, forwards Igor Gongalsky and Jack Downing to injuries. Then Chris Langkow was called up to the AHL and Justin Maylan departed for Europe.
“That’s a lot of talent to leave our lineup in such a short period of time,” Carbery said. “It’s one of the major reasons we recruited the way we did this summer. We knew we’d need a deep lineup for the long haul. We knew we wouldn’t able to keep our team together for the entire season.”
With a depleted lineup, the Stingrays have managed to go 1-2-1 in their four games. While Carbery isn’t satisfied with the Stingrays’ recent record, he is optimistic about the immediate future.
“I think adversity can really help a team,” Carbery said. “I knew there would be a few games when we’d have to go with 14 skaters instead of 16. That’s just the nature of this league. The good teams, the dangerous teams, find ways to win even when they don’t have a full lineup. I think guys figure out how to win and that’s when a team can really take that next step.”
Carbery said he is hopeful that Downing, who suffered an upper body injury two weeks ago, will be back in the lineup on Sunday.
“He’s probable to play on Sunday,” Carbery said. “We need Jack on the ice. He’s a big body that can play below the goal line and cycle the puck for us. He’ll be a welcome addition.”
The Stingrays are coming off a 2-1 shootout loss to the Road Warriors on Wednesday night.
“I thought we played really well against them up at their place,” Carbery said. “We had a great first period and probably should have been up by more than just a goal. If we can play with the same kind of focus and intensity Sunday, I like our chances.”