In his first season behind the bench, South Carolina Stingrays head coach Ryan Warsofsky showed the maturity of a veteran coach.
Warsofsky, 29, was the youngest head coach in the ECHL and led the Stingrays to the finals of the Kelly Cup playoffs in his rookie season as a coach. It was the Stingrays' second appearance in the finals in the last three years.
Warsofsky was rewarded with a two-year contract extension that will keep him with the club through the 2018-19 season.
“I’m thrilled to sign an extension with what I think is the best organization in the league,” Warsofsky said Wednesday. “This is an ownership group and a president that get it and understand what it takes to be successful at this level. This organization got me my foot in the door and gave me this great opportunity. It’s a humbling experience and my wife and I are very excited to stay in South Carolina.”
Warsofsky, who served as an assistant coach for three seasons, was named the seventh head coach in team history last summer. He replaced Spencer Carbery, who took a job in the Ontario Hockey League with the Saginaw Spirit.
In his first season, Warsofsky guided the club to 40 regular-season wins and a spot in the Kelly Cup finals against the Colorado Eagles.
“Ryan made tremendous strides in his first year as the head coach leading the team to a very impressive Kelly Cup run,” said Stingrays president Rob Concannon. “We are very lucky to have a great leader like Ryan and felt it was important to reward him for his efforts and accomplishments as we head into our 25th anniversary season.”
A native of Marshfield, Mass., Warsofsky led the team to playoff series victories over South Division rivals Greenville and Florida before defeating Manchester in the Eastern Conference finals. The Stingrays beat the Monarchs, 4-2, on the road in Game 7 to clinch the series. Colorado swept the Stingrays in four games in the finals. Warsofsky became the second-youngest coach in ECHL history to lead his team to the league finals.
“The ultimate goal is to win a championship,” Warsofsky said. “We’ve gotten a taste of it the last three years and our fans deserve a fourth championship banner. We want to develop players and people and be good in our community, but we want to win a championship. We’ve gotten some good cracks at it the last three years and when that game against Colorado was over and done with we had to reflect, but now we turn the page and try to build that next great South Carolina hockey team.”
Warsofsky picked up his first win as a head coach in Florida against the Everblades with an overtime victory on Oct. 28.
Under Warsofsky, South Carolina had the third-best penalty killing unit in the league during the regular season at 84.9 percent, including an 87.8 percent mark at home. The Stingrays went 30-16-3-1 against South Division opponents.
“We are thrilled with Ryan's performance this season, as exhibited by our Eastern Conference Championship and appearance in the Kelly Cup Finals in his first year as a head coach,” said Stingrays owner Jonathan Zucker. “Ryan has been a tremendous asset to the South Carolina Stingrays, and we are excited to continue the great momentum into our 25th season of hockey in the Lowcountry with Ryan behind the bench.”
The Stingrays led the ECHL in shots allowed per game, giving up an average of just 27.53 shots on goal per contest and had a record of 26-14-1 when they out-shot their opponent. The Rays were also one of the best overtime teams in the ECHL during the regular season, winning 10 contests of their 15 that needed extra time.
South Carolina opens the 2017-18 season on Oct. 20 against Greenville at the North Charleston Coliseum.