It's been almost two months since South Carolina Stingrays captain Kevin Quick has stepped on the ice.
Elmira Jackals vs. South Carolina Stingrays
When: Tuesday, 6 p.m.
Where: North Charleston Coliseum
Records: Elmira 9-15-3 (21 points); Stingrays 21-5-3 (45 points)
Quick broke his leg during a game with the Greenville Road Warriors on Nov. 7 and has been out of the lineup ever since.
Quick, who hopes to have his cast removed next week, is scheduled to return to the lineup sometime in February.
Quick just hopes that Stingrays head coach Spencer Carbery still has a spot for him when he's healthy enough to play.
The Stingrays will take on Elmira on Tuesday night at a special New Year's Eve time of 6 p.m. at the North Charleston Coliseum.
Despite having 11 players called up to the American Hockey League and three, including Quick, on the injured list, the Stingrays have continued to stack up win after win. The Stingrays have the best record in the ECHL at 21-5-3.
"It's been amazing to watch the guys play the last month," Quick said. "It doesn't seem to matter who we have in the lineup, everyone is buying into the system and playing at a really high level."
Maybe too high, Quick joked.
"Hopefully, they've got a spot for me when I get back," Quick said with a chuckle. "The way everyone's been playing, I might not be good enough."
All joking aside, things got so bad before Saturday's game with Wheeling, Carbery had to bring in Dave Jarman and Bryson Busniuk for emergency duty. Neither had played in a professional game in more than three seasons. Still, the Stingrays won, shutting out the Nailers, 3-0. The Stingrays have shrugged off all the call-ups and injuries and have continued to win at a torrid pace, going 7-3-0 during the month of December despite having six of their top seven scorers out of the lineup for most of that time.
"Some teams use it as an excuse not to win," said Stingrays goalie Jeff Jakaitis. "I honestly think we have thrived on it. The guys we have in this locker room use it as a challenge. The standards on the ice haven't changed. We still expect to win."
Carbery said teams can get caught up in which player is being called up or who is out of the lineup with an injury.
"You can wrap yourself up with all the negatives," Carbery said. "I've been on teams and guys are in the locker room talking about who is up and how long they're going to be gone before they come back. That's counterproductive. I've been really impressed with everyone's maturity. We've got a lot of young guys who don't know what it's like playing at the professional level. They seem to be taking it all in stride."
Carbery doesn't expect any of the players currently in the AHL to return for Tuesday's game with Elmira. He's hoping that Lindsay Sparks, who has a bruised ankle, will be ready by the weekend.
Carbery signed forward Steve Mele from the Columbus Cottonmouths of the Southern Professional Hockey League on Monday morning. Mele, 25, is third on the Cottonmouths with 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) in 10 games this season.