It was a record-setting regular season for the South Carolina Stingrays.
Just how good were the Stingrays this season?
The Stingrays set the ECHL record for the longest winning streak at 23 games.
The longest road winning streak at 13 games.
The most shutouts in a season with 12.
Stingrays goalie Jeff Jakaitis set the ECHL record with the longest shutout streak in league history at 321 minutes and 46 seconds.
Jakaitis won 15 consecutive games, which established another ECHL mark.
The Stingrays also tied the ECHL mark with 23 consecutive games without a regulation loss.
In the season finale, South Carolina rookie Derek DeBlois scored two goals and Jakaitis stopped 25 shots as the Stingrays blanked the Evansville Icemen, 3-0, Saturday night before a crowd of 8,177 at the North Charleston Coliseum and in the process secured home-ice advantage in their seven-game Kelly Cup playoff series with the Reading Royals.
That series will open up Friday night at the North Charleston Coliseum beginning at 7:05 p.m. Game 2 will be at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.
It’s been a special regular season that few in a Stingrays uniform will forget anytime soon.
“Taking a step back, there were some things that we accomplished as a team this season that were pretty incredible,” said Stingrays head coach Spencer Carbery. “Thinking about where we came from back in January to where we are now, it’s been an impressive run. This is a special group and they’re not going to forget what they accomplished this season.”
South Carolina team captain Andrew Rowe echoed Carbery’s sentiment, adding that the team’s chemistry has been a key to its success all season.
“Not everyone who plays this game gets to experience a season like this at any level,” Rowe said. “This is such a great group of guys on and off the ice. Everyone gets along off the ice and everyone is pulling in the same direction. It’s been a lot of fun to be a part of this squad.”
Jakaitis, who recorded a career-high seven shutouts this season, was coming off a knee injury last season, but might have had the best campaign of his long career.
“The guys did a great job of sticking to the systems all season long,” Jakaitis said. “(Carbery) said that we had the talent to make a run at a championship if we just stayed the course and I think he’s right. I’ve been really fortunate to play in front of some great teams and this one is up there with the best of them. I can’t do it alone. Everyone has to buy into what we’re doing.”
Of course, none of that matters now that the Stingrays are headed to the postseason. The Stingrays are the second seed in the ECHL’s East Division, but have a 1-2-0 mark against the Royals this season.
“It’s a clean slate, a brand new season and a totally different animal,” Rowe said. “You play 72 games to get to this point. It’s twice as fast, it’s twice as physical and it’s twice as hard to win games in the playoffs. A lot of the younger guys are going to have to figure that out pretty quickly.”
The Stingrays’ 3-0 win over the IceMen was typical of their performance during the team’s 27-2 finish to the season.
“We didn’t play great in the first two periods, but we were pretty good defensively,” Carbery said. “I thought we picked things up in the third period and did a good job of finishing the game.”