Stingrays Reflect on 30 Years in the Lowcountry

Stingrays Reflect on 30 Years in the Lowcountry

On July 20, 1993, a brand-new ice hockey team, in a region that rarely hits freezing temperatures, signed the three-time NHL All-Star Rick Vaive as the team’s first head coach in franchise history. That same day, forward Ken Thibodeau was introduced as “The First Stingray”. Little did they know that those two names would be the first etched into one of the most historied franchises in minor league sports. Now, 30 years later, the South Carolina Stingrays have become a household name in the Lowcountry.

On October 23, 1993, the North Charleston Coliseum opened its doors for the first time to a brand-new ice hockey team in a region that rarely hits freezing temperatures. Now, 30 years later, the South Carolina Stingrays have become a household name in the Lowcountry.

Nobody would have expected a sport made in the icy winters of the Great White North to survive, let alone flourish in the warm climate of the south, but the Stingrays broke through all the stigmas to become the longest tenured team in one city in the ECHL.

In the first 29 seasons, the Stingrays have set numerous league-wide records that include three Kelly Cup Championships, six Kelly Cup Finals Appearances, 255 franchise postseason games, 130 postseason wins, and the longest winning streak of 23 straight games.

Over 780 players have donned the Stingrays red, white, and blue over the franchise’s history, leading to six players being inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame (Tom Nemeth, Rod Taylor, Dave Seitz, Jason Saal, Jared Bednar, and Brett Marietti). The rich history has included three ECHL MVPs, five ECHL Goaltenders of the Year, and nine All-ECHL First Team players. The Stingrays have also inducted 19 players and staff into their own Hall of Fame, most recently honoring Patrick Gaul and Jeff Jakaitis during the last season.

The Stingrays have always been an organization rooted in success and development, advancing its players, coaches, and staff. 65 former players have advanced to play in the NHL with seven Stanley Cup winners highlighted by Braden Holtby, who also won the 2016 Vezina Trophy as the best goaltender in the NHL.

Players aren’t the only ones to advance beyond the Lowcountry. Seven of the Stingrays 10 head coaches have advanced to either the NHL or AHL. Three former coaches for the Stingrays are currently on NHL staffs with Jared Bednar leading the Colorado Avalanche since 2016 and winning the 2020-21 Presidents’ Trophy for most points in the regular season. Cail MacLean and Spencer Carberry serve as assistant coaches for the Calgary Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs respectively. Jason Fitzsimmons is the first coach to join an NHL organization (the Washington Capitals) as a professional scout.

Ryan Warsofsky moved onto the AHL following two seasons behind the bench for South Carolina actively serving as the head coach of the Chicago Wolves. Steve Bergin joins Warsofsky in the AHL, serving as an assistant coach for the Stingrays’ AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears. After serving as the inaugural coach for the Stingrays from 1993-1998, Rick Vaive spent two seasons as the bench boss with the Stingrays AHL affiliate at the time, the Saint John Flames.

Puck drops on the 30th season of South Carolina Stingrays hockey nearly 30 years after they found their home in the Lowcountry.

South Carolina’s promotional schedule for the 2022-23 season will be announced later in the summer. An extended breakdown of the regular season slate is below.

For all the latest news and updates, follow the Stingrays on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Season ticket plans are on sale now! For more information or to purchase, contact the Stingrays by phone at 843-744-2248 or submit this form.


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