Game Preview: South Carolina Stingrays vs Wheeling Nailers, game 1 2014 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Preview

North SC Stingrays logoCharleston, S.C. – Wheeling Nailers logo

The South Carolina Stingrays open the 2014 Kelly Cup Playoffs tonight with Game 1 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Wheeling Nailers at 7:05 at the North Charleston Coliseum.

#3 South Carolina Stingrays (43-23-2-4, 92 points) vs. #6 Wheeling Nailers (39-27-1-5, 84 points)
Game 1 – Friday, April 18 at 7:05 p.m. ET at South Carolina
Game 2 – Saturday, April 19 at 7:05 p.m. ET at South Carolina
Game 3 – Wednesday, April 23 at 7:00 p.m. ET at Wheeling
Game 4 – Friday, April 25 at 7:00 p.m. ET at Wheeling
Game 5 – Saturday, April 26 at 7:00 p.m. ET at Wheeling (If Necessary)
Game 6 – Tuesday, April 29 at 7:05 p.m. ET at South Carolina (If Necessary)
Game 7 – Wednesday, April 30 at 7:05 p.m. ET at South Carolina (If Necessary)

Head-to-Head Series at a Glance

The series is the second time the two teams have met in the postseason with the Nailers skating away with a 3-1 series victory in the then best-of-five Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in 2011. In the regular season, the Stingrays took down the Nailers 3-0 in their lone meeting on December 28 at the North Charleston Coliseum and hold an all-time record of 9-8-1.

2013-14 Season

South Carolina:

The Stingrays finished the 2013-14 regular season with a 43-23-2-4 record for 92 points, holding the third seed in the Eastern Conference and earned their first South Division title since the 2000-01 season. The Stingrays kicked off the campaign with an 11-game point streak (9-0-1-1 from October 19 to November 9) and 11-game road point streak (October 19-December 7, longest in ECHL this season) and added a six-game winning streak (November 24-December 7), a pair of four-game winning streaks (December 27-January 2, January 24-February 7) and two three-game streaks (March 15-21, April 6-11).

Goaltender Jeff Jakaitis emerged as key figure in the Stingrays’ success going 24-12-1-2 in 40 appearances, finishing third in wins and save percentage (.924), fifth with a 2.16 goals against average and tied for sixth with three shutouts. Last week, he received the team’s Jerry Zucker Community Service Award and was named to the All-ECHL First Team for the second time in his career. Yesterday, he received the Warrior Hockey ECHL Goaltender of the Year award for the second time, tying an ECHL record.

Forwards Peter Boyd and Wayne Simpson led the Stingrays’ offense in 2013-14 with Boyd taking the team lead in goals (25), assists (38) and points (63), standing in a tie for ninth in the ECHL scoring race. Simpson provided 41 points (22 goals, 19 assists) to lead team rookies. Forward Scott Campbell helped the Stingrays to their fast start with a six-game goal streak (seven goals), tied for third longest in the ECHL this season. During the season, the Stingrays added forward Dale Mitchell (45 total points, 22 with Stingrays) from San Francisco, who made an immediate scoring splash in his Stingrays debut on February 7 with an ECHL-season high six-point game (three goals, three assists) against Greenville.

The Stingrays offense tied for second in the ECHL with four hat tricks this season and the most by the team since 2008-09 (five) as Boyd (January 4, March 29), Simpson (April 2) and Mitchell (February 7) each found the back of the net three times. Boyd’s two performances mark the first time a Stingrays player scored multiple hat tricks in a single season since forwardMichael Dubuc recorded three in the 2008-09 campaign.

Wheeling:

After starting the season with two wins in their first six games, the Nailers gained momentum behind an ECHL-season long 12-game point streak (November 14-December 7) and closed the regular season with a 38-27-1-5 stance for 82 points, sitting second in the Atlantic division and sixth in the Eastern Conference. Three five-game winning streaks helped the Nailers climb the standings (November 23-30, March 8-19, March 28-April 4) and in March, the Nailers solidified their postseason berth with a seven-game home winning streak (March 14-April 4, tied for second longest in ECHL this season).

Like the Stingrays, goaltending proved to be a key cog in the Nailers’ success. Mike Condon backstopped the Nailers with a 23-12-0-4 record in 39 appearances, sat behind Jakaitis in wins (tied for fourth in ECHL), goals-against average (2.18, sixth), led the ECHL with a .931 save percentage and earned ECHL Rookie of the Month Awards in November and April and Goalie of the Month in April, becoming the first netminder to win both rookie and goalie honors in the same month since December 2001. Condon also led the league with three ECHL Goaltender of the Week Awards this season (November 25-December 1,March 10-16, March 31-April 6).

On offense, the Nailers were led by forward Zach Torquato (52 points, 38 assists are tied for 14 in ECHL), defensemanMike Ratchuk (44 points, tied for second among ECHL defensemen) and the rookie quartet of Sahir Gill (54 points, tied for fifth among league rookies), Carter Rowney (44 points, tied for 13), Cody Sylvester (42 points, tied for 17) and Max MacKay (42 points, tied for 17). Gill finished the regular season on a 10-game point streak, tied for sixth longest in the ECHL this season, with three goals and nine assists for 12 points.

The Numbers

South Carolina Stingrays
Record: 43-23-2-4, 92 points
Home: 22-11-2-1
Away: 21-12-0-3
Last 10 Games: 5-4-0-1
Streak: 3-0-0-0
Goals: Peter Boyd (25)
Assists: Peter Boyd (38)
Points: Peter Boyd (63)
Penalty Minutes: Anthony Collins (109)
Power-Play Goals: 
Jack Downing, Dale Mitchell (6) 
Power-Play Assists: 
Peter Boyd (11)
Power-Play Points: Peter Boyd (15)
Shorthanded Goals: 
Luke Greiner (3)
Shorthanded Assists:
 Luka Vidmar, Peter Boyd (2)
Shorthanded Points:
 Luke Greiner (4)
Game-Winning Goals: Peter Boyd (7) 
Wins: 
Jeff Jakaitis (24)                          
GAA: 
*David LeNeveu (1.64)                    
SPCT: 
*David LeNeveu (.940)

*LeNeveu is on loan to Hartford (AHL)

Wheeling Nailers
Record: 39-27-1-5, 84 points
Home: 21-12-0-3
Away: 18-15-1-2
Last 10 Games: 7-3-0-0
Streak: 1-0-0-0
Goals: *Cody Sylvester (24)
Assists: Sahir Gill (41)
Points: Sahir Gill (54)
Penalty Minutes: Chaz Johnson (152)
Power-Play Goals: 
Mike Ratchuk (6) 
Power-Play Assists: 
Zack Torquato (13)
Power-Play Points: Mike Ratchuk (17)
Shorthanded Goals: 
Denver Manderson, *Cody Sylvester (4)
Shorthanded Assists:
 Sahir Gill (4)
Shorthanded Points:
 Sahir Gill, *Cody Sylvester, Denver Manderson (4)
Game-Winning Goals: Mike Ratchuk (6) 
Wins: 
Mike Condon (23)                          
GAA: 
Kieran Millan (1.75)                    
SPCT: 
Mike Condon (.931)

*Sylvester is recalled to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL)

Head Coaches
South Carolina: Spencer Carbery (3rd year)
Wheeling: Clark Donatelli (2nd year)

NHL Affiliate
South Carolina: Boston Bruins
Wheeling: Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins

AHL Affiliate
South Carolina: Providence Bruins
Wheeling: Hamilton Bulldogs and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins

Postseason History

The 2014 Kelly Cup Playoffs mark the 20 postseason appearance for the Stingrays, an ECHL record, seventh for the Nailers and 14 for the Nailers organization (fourth longest in ECHL history), including the Wheeling Thunderbirds (1992-96) and Carolina/Winston-Salem Thunderbirds (1988-92).

The Stingrays (1997, 2001, 2009) are tied with the Hampton Roads Admirals (1991, 1992, 1998) with three ECHL championships. The Nailers are tied with the Stingrays with three final series appearances (1989, 1990, 1993), but have not claimed a title.

All-time, the Stingrays have 84 postseason wins (second in ECHL history), 77 losses (ECHL record) in 161 games (ECHL record). The Nailers are 33-31 and 61-60 all-time (fourth most losses in ECHL history) in 121 games (fourth in ECHL history) including the Wheeling Thunderbirds and Carolina/Winston-Salem.

At the North Charleston Coliseum, the Stingrays hold a 53-32 all-time postseason record, with the most wins in ECHL history and second most in losses. On the road, the Stingrays have 31 wins (tied for fourth) and 45 losses (ECHL record).

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