South Carolina Stingrays goalie Parker Milner came to the rink Saturday morning and purposely left his contacts at his apartment.
Normally, the starting goalie on game day takes part in the pre-game morning skate, but Milner figured that he’d skip the workout and rest up for Saturday night’s game against Atlanta. To make sure that he wasn’t going to get talked into skating or change his mind, Milner came to the rink with his glasses.
If Saturday night’s performance is any indication, Milner might not take part in a morning skate again the rest of the season.
Milner stopped all 31 shots he faced, recording his third shutout of the season, and Nick Roberto scored twice to lead the South Carolina Stingrays past Atlanta 5-0 at the club’s annual Pink in the Rink Night before a crowd of 6,878 at the North Charleston Coliseum.
The Stingrays improved to 38-13-7 (83 points) and remained in second place in the ECHL’s South Division. Atlanta fell to 28-31-3 (59 points).
With Jeff Jakaitis up in the American Hockey League playing for Hartford, Milner is the only contracted goalie on the Stingrays roster. With the Stingrays facing a three-games in three-nights schedule this weekend, Milner, 27, knew that he might have to play in all three games this weekend.
“I think I’m getting a little too old to do back-to-back games and a morning skate,” said Milner, who improved to 21-5-3 on the season. “I don’t see how Jeff does it, he’s like an ironman. He can skate for hours and never get tired. I figured I'd rest up because it was going to be hotter with all the fans in the building. I left my contacts at home just in case I changed my mind or they tried to talk me into skating.”
Milner, who leads the ECHL with a 1.94 goals against average and .928 save percentage, gave most of the credit for the shutout to the Stingrays defense.
“I thought our energy was really good tonight, we fed off the fans,” Milner said. “You could tell from the first period that we had that mentality that we were not going to be denied tonight. I thought their goalie played really well, but we just kept coming at him and finally popped a couple of goals in the third period.”
Joe Devin got the opening goal of the game, his 18th of the season, before the Stingrays added four goals in the final period. Steven Whitney scored, while rookie Tad Kozun scored his first professional goal with five minutes left in regulation. Stingrays coach Ryan Warsofsky said the team’s effort was much better than during Friday night’s 3-2 loss to Greenville.
“It was way better, energy level, compete level and the way we took care of the puck,” Warsofsky said. “It was night and day between the way we battled and skated tonight as opposed to Friday night. That’s got to be in our DNA.”
A year ago, the Stingrays raised more than $31,000 for Share our Suzy, a Lowcountry non-profit charity that helps victims of breast cancer. Stingrays president Rob Concannon is hopeful the team raised as much money this weekend.
“The Pink in the Rink is an important night for the organization,” Warsofsky said. “We had a great crowd, it’s a big night for everyone. Pink in the Rink is obviously a special night, and so many people have been affected by this disease in our community. Nice to get a win on a night like this.”
First star: Milner, Stingrays. Milner is having his best season of his career.
“Guys played well in front of him, but he made big save in the first period that kind of set the tone,” Warsofsky said. “He’s a calming influence on the ice.”
Second star: Roberto, Stingrays. Roberto had just four goals coming into Saturday night’s game and notched his fifth and sixth goals of the year. Roberto has six goals and 10 assists in 46 games with the Stingrays this season.
Third star: Taylor Cammarata. Cammarata had two assists, including a beautiful pass to Roberto on his second goal of the night.
The Stingrays will wrap up their three-game weekend Sunday afternoon against Jacksonville at 3:05 p.m. at the North Charleston Coliseum.