By Mark Simon
Special to NHL.com
March 14, 2003
South Carolina Stingrays center Dave Seitz still hangs out in the same places, eats lunch at the same group of Italian restaurants and plays the same style of hockey that he did when he broke into the ECHL seven years ago.
Seitz may be one of the league’s old fogeys at 29, but you could argue that since the Stingrays’ magical run through the 2001 Kelly Cup Playoffs, he has been the ECHL’s best player.
He scored a league and career-high 44 goals last season — even though he only had eight at Christmas — and 98 points, one better in each category than he did as a rookie with the championship-winning Stingrays. This season, the goal total has slipped to 19, but he’s surpassed his career high in assists with 56 and has 75 points through his first 61 games.
“Right before the Kelly Cup that year I got hurt and missed something like four or six weeks,” Seitz said. “When I came back, I rededicated myself to the game. That’s been a big reason for my success.”
The rededicated Seitz was on an unbelievable hot streak in the 2001 postseason. He won Game 1 of the Kelly Cup Finals against Trenton in overtime by batting a puck out of mid-air into the net, then scored the game-winning goal in the Stingrays’ next two victories as well.
He had a knack last season for coming through in the clutch, netting nine game-winners to go along with a plus-37 rating. The Stingrays got caught in a tight race in the Southeast Division and ended up losing out in a one-game playoff to Florida for the No. 4 seed.
That resulted in the Stingrays promoting assistant coach Jason Fitzsimmons to the head-coaching job and his team responded. The Stingrays are in second place in the Southeast and only five points out of first. Goalie Kirk Daubenspeck, who played on the 2001 Kelly Cup team and whom Seitz called “the best goalie in the league” leads the ECHL in wins. His play and that of Seitz have been a big reason why the Stingrays are a title contender.
“We started the year 6-0 and then we hit an injury bug,” Seitz said. “We would get one guy back and two more would go down. Now we’re the closest to being back to our opening-day lineup than we were all season. Jason’s been great. Some of us played with Jason and he has a real good feel for the team.”
Seitz and Stingrays’ captain Brett Marrietti, who has been with the team for nine seasons, both signed on quickly after Fitzsimmons was named head coach. Not that they necessarily were going anywhere. Seitz and Marrietti both live in South Carolina year-round along with Stingrays defenseman Ryan Brindley.
“You play in this league and you’re not going to get rich,” Seitz said.
“Charleston is a beautiful city. The team and the city have been very good to me over the past few years. I’m too happy to go anywhere else.”