The biggest surprise on the South Carolina Stingrays Kelly Cup playoff roster wasn’t the players that made up the 25-man list, but the goalie that didn’t.
South Carolina goalie Adam Morrison was left off the Stingrays postseason roster that was released by the team. The roster features 11 forwards, six defensemen, one goaltender, three players on the playoff reserve list and five players on the playoff eligible list.
Morrison’s name was not among the 25-man roster.
The Stingrays open their best-of-seven Kelly Cup playoff series against Reading this Friday beginning at 7:05 p.m. at the North Charleston Coliseum. Game 2 will be Saturday at 7:05 p.m.
Morrison, a third-year pro, has not been in the lineup since suffering a “lower body” injury, forcing him to leave the Stingrays’ March 8 game against Greenville early in the third period. Morrison had a breakout season during the 2014-15 campaign, posting career numbers in wins (15), goals against average (1.88), shutouts (4) and save percentage (.928).
“Adam has been out of the lineup for more than a month and his rehab process was going very slowly,” said Stingrays coach Spencer Carbery. “We were not sure when or if Adam would be ready to play again. It was a very difficult decision because Adam had played so well for us this season and was a huge part of our success.”
Jeff Jakaitis was the only goalie listed on the Stingrays active playoff roster. Rookie goalie Keegan Asmundson was listed on the Stingrays’ reserve list, but he remains in the American Hockey League with the Hershey Bears. Asmundson played in three games for the Stingrays, recording a 2-1-0 mark with a 1.67 goals against average and a .925 save percentage. Asmundson had a shutout for the Stingrays.
The Stingrays can sign an emergency goalie while Asmundson is still up in Hershey. The emergency goalie, however, must come from the amateur ranks.
“Either Keegan will get assigned here or we’ll get a goalie from college,” Carbery said. “We haven’t made up our minds on exactly what we’re going to do yet.”
Jakaitis, 31, is coming off another dominating season. He was a first-team All-ECHL performer for the second straight season, establishing league records for most consecutive wins (15) and the longest shutout streak (321 minutes, 46 seconds). He is expected to be named the league’s goalie of the year for the second straight season later this month.
“A lot of teams in hockey have won championships riding the back of a hot goalie,” Carbery said. “We think Jeff is the best goalie in the ECHL.”
The Stingrays had five players on their eligible list that are still in the AHL — Cory Kane (Providence), Andrew Cherniwchan (Providence), Frank Simonelli (Providence), Scott Ford (Milwaukee) and Brett Cameron (Adirondack).
The AHL regular season ends on April 19. Providence has already secured a Calder Cup playoff spot, while Milwaukee and Adirondack are still fighting for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Any player that returns from the AHL must be on the roster by the ECHL’s conference finals, which would most likely start in the middle of May.
“We’ll make those decisions when those players become available,” Carbery said. “If we’re fortunate enough to get to the conference finals, we’ll probably have some tough decisions to make.”