Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Stingrays Quietly Putting Together an Impressive Season

They are the little brother of the Washington Capitals, sometimes forgotten because of the success of their big brother, the Hershey Bears. But the Stingrays are making their case to receive more attention this season.

After missing out on the postseason last year for the first time in the franchise's 14-year history, the team is doing everything in it's power to get back there. First year head coach Jared Bednar led the Stingrays to a 12-game winning streak through December and early January. And after the streak ended in Florida, all the team did was win two out of three games in Texas against the best team in the league.

Coming into last Sunday's game, the Wildcatters had a 23 game point streak (18-0-5) and the ECHL's best record with a stunning mark of 27-3-2-4. The teams had already split the first two games of a three game weekend series with the Stingrays winning in overtime on Friday night 4-3, and the Wildcatters responding on Saturday with a 4-2 victory.

On Sunday, the Stingrays jumped out to a 3-0 lead on their way to a 4-2 victory officially ending the Wildcatters impressive unbeaten run. The third goal of that game was a shorthanded goal scored by Travis Morin, who has been impressive in his first professional season out of Minnesota State. He currently has 17 goals, 22 assists, for 39 points in 34 games with South Carolina, and he'll be a part of the ECHL All-Star game later this month on January 23rd.

Besides Morin, four other Capitals prospects have spent time this season with the ECHL club. Maryland native Stephen Werner, undrafted prospect Steve Pinizzotto, defensive prospect Patrick McNeill, and forward Andrew Gordon out of St. Cloud State.

After their impressive trip to Texas, the Stingrays returned home and defeated the Augusta Lynx 5-1 Tuesday night to move into sole possession of second place in the South Division. Veteran Cail MacLean and rookie Pierre-Luc O'Brien each had 3 assists in the win, and recent Hershey Bears callup Grant McNeill added his second goal of the season.

The partnership between the Capitals, Bears, and Stingrays has to be viewed as one of the best in hockey. So while the Bears are looking for their 3rd straight trip to the Calder Cup this spring, don't forget about the Stingrays down the stretch as they look for their 5th Kelly Cup Championship in team history.

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