South Carolina Stingrays coach Cail MacLean got a call from an American Hockey League team and for once it was actually good news.
Stingrays defenseman Johann Kroll was returned to the Stingrays after spending the last month with the AHL's Manchester Monarchs.
"Anytime my phone rings these days I'm thinking that someone else is going up to the American League," MacLean said. "I winced a little bit when I saw the number, but fortunately for us it was good news this time."
For the first time in months, the Stingrays will have a full lineup and maybe even a healthy scratch.
"I can't remember the last time we had a healthy scratch. It was probably back in October," MacLean said with a chuckle. "It's been such a long time since we've a full lineup I'm not sure we'll have room on the bench, but it's a good problem to have."
Along with Kroll, defenseman Nate Kiser is expected to return to the lineup tonight when the Stingrays take on Gwinnett. Kiser has missed six games with a concussion. Kiser tried to play last weekend against Florida, but lasted one period before leaving the game.
"Nate had the flu last week, so I think that had something to do with him leaving the game," MacLean said. "I know he's feeling better. He has practiced all week. We've really missed his leadership out there on the ice and in the locker room."
The Stingrays, who have been hit especially hard by call-ups and injuries on their blue line, could actually have an extra defenseman against the Gladiators.
The last time the Stingrays had a full complement of 16 skaters, including six defensemen came back on Jan. 15 against Kalamazoo. That lasted all of one period as Josh Godfrey was knocked out of the game early in the second period on Darryl Lloyd's vicious hit that resulted in a concussion.
"I know better than to get too excited," MacLean said. "I know this situation won't last for long. I know I'm a phone call away from losing someone. Some of this might be a result of the Olympics. NHL teams are sending some of their guys down to the American League. Hopefully, we'll have everyone in the lineup for the weekend."
MacLean is hoping a full lineup will help lift the Stingrays out of their funk. Despite leading the South Division, the Stingrays are just 2-5-3 in their last 10 games.
"I saw some positives signs last week against Florida and hopefully we'll be able to build on that," MacLean said. "Certainly having a full lineup should help us. It should help us with our habits and allow some guys to get back to playing their style of hockey."