Just when South Carolina Stingrays coach Spencer Carbery thought it was safe to get back on the ice.
Carbery and the Stingrays left last Monday night from the North Charleston Coliseum for the 900-mile, 15-hour bus ride to Kalamazoo, Mich., with 15 healthy skaters and two goalies. Most ECHL teams have 16 skaters and a couple of healthy scratches on their roster. Besides a recent three-game homestand during the American Hockey League All-Star break, the Stingrays haven't had the luxury of extra players
on the roster since November.
By the time the team arrived back in the Lowcountry early Sunday afternoon, the Stingrays had lost two skaters and two straight games to Cincinnati.
It's been an all-too-familiar theme for Carbery and the Stingrays as they face South Division rival Greenville tonight at the North Charleston Coliseum.
"We went up to Kalamazoo with 15 skaters, and we felt pretty good about things," Carbery said. "You'd like a full roster, you'd like to have 16 guys out there, but 15 was fine considering we'd played most of January with 13 skaters. I wasn't going to complain."
Forward Greg Stewart was the first player to go down, as he ran into the goal post in the second period last Wednesday night scoring a goal in the Stingrays' 4-3 shootout victory over the Wings. He suffered an upper body injury and has been out of the lineup ever since. He is scheduled to see a doctor this morning to further evaluate the injury.
"He's listed as day-to-day right now, but he could be out a little while," Carbery said.
Two days later, defenseman Zach Tarkir suffered a lower body injury against Cincinnati and missed Saturday night's game against the Cyclones.
"Zach got hurt against Kalamazoo and couldn't go very long against Cincinnati," Carbery said.
That left the Stingrays with 13 healthy skaters against the Cyclones, who have the best home record (16-3-2) in the ECHL's Eastern Conference.
"Getting two points in their building would have been difficult enough with 16 healthy bodies in the lineup," Carbery said. "To do it with just 13 is a tough task for any team."
With Stewart out of the lineup for the foreseeable future, Carbery signed Greg Beller, out of the Southern Professional Hockey League. Beller, a sixth-round pick of the New York Rangers in 2005, has 11 goals and eight assists in 18 games for the Cottonmouth and will make his Stingrays debut tonight.
"Greg is a big kid with good hands around the net," Carbery said. "With Stewart out, we needed to bring in another forward to help us out."