Image: Carolina Stingrays
The Washington Capitals and the South Carolina Stingrays have announced that they have agreed to extend their affiliation through 2017-2018.
South Carolina is currently first in the South Division and is second in the Eastern Conference. They have eight games left in the regular season, and currently lead Florida by 2 points. Four of their remaining games are against Atlanta (4th in the South), with two against Orlando (3rd in the South), and two against Norfolk (last in the East).
South Carolina is loaded with players who skated for Washington in the preseason at Capitals Training Camp.
They have one draft pick on their roster currently in goalie Vitek Vanecek.
Vanecek, the 2014 second round pick, was named the CCM Goalie of the Week and Brett Cameron was named CCM Rookie of the Week for this past week. He is currently the second best goalie in the ECHL in GAA with 2.04, is tied for 13th in Save Percentage at .918, and has two shutouts, which is tied for 15th. In 27 games this season, he has posted a record of 15-7-3-1.
Fellow goaltender, Mark Dekanich is also performing well for the Stingrays. He is 6th in GAA with 2.14, 4th in Save Percentage at .926, is tied for 12th in wins with 17, is 2-2 in shootouts, 17th in minutes, and 18th in saves. In 32 games this season, he has posted a record of 17-9-2-2. He played one game for Hershey this season as well.
Also playing part of the year for South Carolina and currently on Hershey’s roster is forward Caleb Herbert. Forward Austin Fyten and defensmen Joey Leach and Bobby Shea have all appeared in games this year for Hershey. Shea actually played forward in a game for Hershey on January 10 against the Utica Comets when the Bears found themselves unable to dress enough forwards.
Shea registered one assist in his three games with Hershey. Fyten, who played center for Hershey, also recorded an assist in six games for the Bears, while Leach tallied three assists in six games.
The 654 miles between South Carolina and Hershey has not been much of a factor in getting players in and out as many thought after Reading ended their affiliation with Washington. While a 3+ hour flight is longer than a 30 minute drive, the ability of the coaching staffs to work together has more than made up for the extra travel time.
And the abilities of the coaches and players shows in the standings. South Carolina and Washington are both in sole possession of first place while the Bears are currently tied with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in points for first in the Atlantic.
Hershey has not announced an agreement to extend their current affiliation beyond this year, but if all goes well, perhaps three trophies will come to the organization this year and kick-start lengthy relationships for years to come.
By Julie Beidler