Who: Orlando Solar Bears at South Carolina Stingrays
When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
Where: North Charleston Coliseum
Season series: Stingrays lead, 3-0-0.
Catch the Rays
Spencer Carbery has mixed emotions every time a South Carolina Stingrays player gets called up to the American Hockey League.
He's always happy to see players get an opportunity to compete at the next level and move one step closer to their dream of playing in the NHL.
But Carbery - the franchise's head coach and general manager - also wonders how the Stingrays will continue to win when players leave for the AHL.
The Stingrays (16-3-3), who lost to Gwinnett, 3-2 on Friday night, will take on the Orlando Solar Bears on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the North Charleston Coliseum.
Carbery had no bittersweet feelings when he informed Stingrays defenseman Scooter Vaughan that he was called up to the AHL's Bridgeport Sound Tigers after Wednesday morning's practice.
"I think it's one of the most gratifying conversations I've had with a player since I've been a head coach," Carbery said. "I know how hard Scooter has worked to get to this point in his career. I know the sacrifices he's made and to see him get called up, to see him get rewarded, was a great moment for me and one I'm not going to forget anytime soon."
Vaughan is one of eight Stingrays - the fifth in the last two days - to get called up. Andrew Cherniwchan, the reigning ECHL player of the week, was the latest player to leave. The eight Stingrays currently in the AHL are Vaughan (Bridgeport), Cherniwchan (Providence), Steve Spinell (Providence), Scott Campbell (Providence), Jack Downing (Providence), Jordan Owens (Hamilton), Chad Painchaud (Norfolk), and Chris Langkow (Bridgeport).
"When (Carbery) told me, I realized that the boys were going to be a little short-handed this weekend," Vaughan said. "Sure, I was excited about going up, but I hated to leave the guys short-handed like I did. I think having (Carbery) so psyched about me going up really helped put me at ease."
When Carbery was putting together his roster this summer, he knew there would be days like this. A revolving door of players would be in and out of the lineup. The eight players in the AHL have accounted for 54 percent of the Stingrays' total offense (106 of 196 points) this season and 60 percent of their goals scored (43 of 72 goals).
"I'm not going to worry about who's not in the lineup," Carbery said. "There's just nothing I can do about it, so I've got to put it out of my mind. The only thing I'm concerned about now is figuring out a way for the guys in our locker room to win hockey games.
"I know the fans are going to get frustrated by all the call-ups, but we're a developmental league. I wanted guys that were hungry to get to the next level. That is what has made us so successful this season."
Vaughan will be reunited with several of his Stingrays teammates this weekend. The Bridgeport Sound Tigers face Providence Saturday night. Vaughan said he's looking forward to battling in the corners with Campbell, Cherniwchan, Downing and Spinell, who just a few days ago were playing together with the Stingrays. Vaughan will have Langkow on his side against the Bruins.
"Hockey is such a small community and usually every game you'll play against someone you know," Vaughan said. "But this will be a little different. We were teammates on Monday and now we're on opposite sides of the ice trying to earn a contract."
Carbery said one thing that makes him confident the Stingrays can weather the storm of call-ups is his goalies - Jeff Jakaitis and David LeNeveu. Jakaitis is the top goalie in the ECHL with a 12-1-3 record and a league-best 1.72 goals against average and a .937 save percentage. LeNeveu, who has NHL experience, is a perfect 2-0-0 with two shutouts.
"They give us a chance to win every night," Carbery said.