Rayzor’s Edge: Andrew Rowe making immediate impact with South Carolina Stingrays

South Carolina's Andrew Rowe and Derek DeBlois celebrate as teammates after a goal against Toledo during last year's Kelly Cup playoffs. Paul Zoeller/staff ¬

It’s hard to overstate the importance of the return of South Carolina Stingrays captain Andrew Rowe.

For a team struggling to find an offensive identity, Rowe’s return this past weekend was a much-needed morale boost. The Stingrays won two of three games and scored a combined seven goals on Saturday and Sunday nights.

The Stingrays who have won five of their last seven games and appear to have righted their ship as they head into back-to-back games against the Orlando Solar Bears this weekend.

Rowe, who started the season with American Hockey League’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers, is a high-end skill player at this level and makes his teammates around him that much better.

The Stingrays already welcomed back Derek DeBlois and reunited him and Rowe on a line together last weekend. You’ll remember that the trio of Rowe, DeBlois and Wayne Simpson was the most potent offensive line in the Kelly Cup playoffs and during the final eight weeks of the regular season.

The two picked up right where they left off last June.

Rowe had two goals and two assists, while DeBlois had a goal and an two assist in the two victories.

“You hate to say that one player makes a difference, but Andrew Rowe is that kind of player,” said Stingrays head coach Spencer Carbery. “He makes plays with his speed, his stick handling, his vision. He’s a difference maker that this level.”

For those waiting for the return of Wayne Simpson, don’t count on it. He’s got eight assists in 10 games with the AHL’s Portland Pirates.

I doubt we’ll see him again.

Carbery said that Rowe’s impact won’t be felt just on the ice, but in the locker room as well.

“I don’t think people realize how important having good leadership is on a team at this level,” Carbery said. “He’s not just a really, really good player on the ice. He’s brings a lot to the locker room as well. People in and around the team understand what kind of leader Andrew is. It’s as impressive as what he brings to the ice.”

Rowe is here in the Lowcountry because of a trade at the NHL level. The New York Islanders, the Sound Tigers’ NHL affiliate traded forward Michael Grabner to Montreal for five young prospects – Taylor Beck, Matthew Finn, Christopher Gibson, Tom Nilsson and Carter Verhaeghe. Four of the five Montreal players are forwards, so spots in the Sound Tigers’ lineup were at a premium during the team’s preseason camp.

Rowe also broke his finger on the first day of training camp.

“ I can’t worry about things I can’t control,” Rowe said.

The return of Rowe, DeBlois and now Austin Fyten from Hershey give the Stingrays three much-needed pieces to the offensive puzzle.

In other personnel transactions, forward Kyle Kraemer has left the team. There could be a trade in the future, but Kraemer decided it was best to move on. He had three goals and one assist in 12 games.

It’s too bad because Kraemer had 57 points (25 goals, 32 assists) and 71 points (30 goals, 41 assists) for the Ontario Reign in 2012 and 2013.

The injuries are starting to pile up for the Stingrays.

Here’s a quick update.

Forward Max Sauve (upper body) will be out at least a month and maybe more.

Goalie Mark Dekanich (lower body) is hoping to return to the lineup next week.

Forward Trevor Gillies (upper body) is hoping to return in 3-to-4 weeks.

Forward Andrew Johnston (upper body) is out at least a month and maybe longer.

Defenseman Wade Epp (lower body) is out at least two weeks and could be three weeks.

Here are some highlights of the Stingray from this past weekend.

APM

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