Mike Vogel, who is the senior writer for www.WashingtonCaps.com, the official web site of the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League is visiting Charleston, S.C. and the South Carolina Stingrays, who are the ECHL affiliate of the Capitals.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With the days and games remaining swiftly peeling off the calendar, the South Carolina Stingrays headed into an important weekend with a Thursday night road game against the Checkers in Charlotte. The first of three games in three nights (the Rays return home to host the Reading Royals on Friday and Saturday), this weekend’s slate represents 20 percent of South Carolina’s remaining games this season. The fact that the Checkers currently occupy the fifth and final playoff spot in the ECHL’s South Division only added to the magnitude of the contest.
The Stingrays got the job done, and in fine fashion. They put a convincing 6-2 hurting on the Checkers to pull within two points of Charlotte in the standings. The two teams meet for the final time this season on Mar. 25 at North Charleston Coliseum, one of the Rays’ six remaining home dates in 2006-07.
“Obviously the win is huge for us right now,” said Stingrays coach Jason Fitzsimmons after the game. “The way we did it was convincing. It was gritty. There are guys in this lineup who shouldn’t be in this lineup. They know it’s a big game, led by one of our leaders, [defenseman] Nate Kiser. Words can’t explain how big of an emotional boost to the team it was seeing Nate playing tonight when he was still supposed to two weeks away [from returning to the lineup]. I think that emotional boost alone really jump-started us tonight, and the guys went out and played a good hockey game.”