The South Carolina Stingrays had four players sent down from the American Hockey League this week.
Andrew Rowe, Wayne Simpson, Andrew Ammon and Tim Spencer were on the roster for the Stingrays on Friday night against the Toledo Walleye.
The problem with having so many players return from the AHL is that the rest of the team tends to relax, thinking that the new skaters will take over much of the workload.
While Stingrays coach Spencer Carbery didn’t think South Carolina relaxed against Toledo, he did notice some disturbing habits creep back into the Stingrays’ game.
Josh Holstrom and Justin Mercier each had a goal and an assist to lead Toledo past South Carolina, 4-3, Friday night before a crowd of 3,512 at the North Charleston Coliseum.
The Stingrays, who dropped to 17-13-6 (40 points), remained in fourth place in the ECHL’s East Division. The Walleye, who are in the North Division, improved to 24-5-4 (52 points).
With the addition of four new players into South Carolina’s lineup, Spencer was concerned that the Stingrays’ bad habits might return to their game.
“I don’t think the guys relaxed, but I do think the structure of our game kind of changed,” Carbery said. “We went through this at the beginning of the season and it took a long time and a lot of work, but we changed the identity of team. Tonight, watching that game from behind the bench, it was the old team that played at the beginning of the season. And that’s not to be disrespectful to the guys who came down because they’ve not played here in a while. It’s going to take some time for them to get the detail back in their game every single shift. It’ll be a work in progress.”
Of the players that returned from the AHL, Rowe, who returned after nearly three months in Charlotte, and Simpson made an immediate impact as each scored a goal. It was the first time since Nov. 1 Rowe had been with the Stingrays after being named the team captain at the beginning of the season.
“That’s kind of what you expect from those guys,” Carbery said. “I know Andrew was really excited to be back.”
With the game tied at 1-1 going the second period, Caleb Herbert gave the Stingrays a 2-1 lead midway through the second period.
It appeared that Stingrays were going to take control of the game. Instead it was the Walleye that seemed to draw energy from the Stingrays’ goal.
“That was disappointing because we had a chance to get another goal and maybe make it a 3-1 lead and then finish them off,” Carbery said. “Toledo is a good team and if you’ve got a chance to put them away, you’ve got to do it.”
Kyle Bonis and Mercier scored to give the Walleye a 3-2 lead at the end of the second period.
Holmstrom scored early in the third period to give Toledo a 4-2 avantage.
Simpson scored with less than four minutes to play to close the gap, 4-3. Simpson nearly tied the game in the final seconds, but his shot went off the post.