BY Andrew Miller
Of The Post and Courier Staff
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – Ed Courtenay has never been known for his skating ability, but that didn’t stop him from playing 44 games in the National Hockey League.
With the NHL lockout this season, the talent level in the ECHL has risen significantly from last season, when Courtenay rejoined the Stingrays after a six-year absence.
Courtenay, 36, led the Stingrays in scoring a year ago with 66 points on 29 goals and 27 assists. This year, it took almost 10 games before Courtenay scored his first goal.
“Honestly, I wasn’t worried because I knew it would be only a matter of time before I started to score,” Courtenay said. “As soon as I got used to the speed of the league, which improved even from last year, and felt comfortable out there I knew things would start working out for me.”
When Courtenay finally scored his first goal, forward Matt Reid jokingly gave Courtenay the puck. Pucks are normally only given to rookies who score their first professional goals.
“Reid is just getting back at me because I’m a better card player on the bus,” Courtenay quipped.
Over the last week, however, the former San Jose Shark has been among the hottest players on the Stingrays roster.
In his last four games, Courtenay has eight points on four goals and four assists. He had two game-winning goals over the weekend, including one in overtime against Florida last Friday night.
“Ed is a big confidence guy,” head coach Jason Fitzsimmons said. “When he’s confident, he’s going to score. He’s going to dominate when he’s on the ice. He’s on one of those streaks of his and we’re going to ride him as long as we can. He’s a big reason we’ve won three straight games.”
Courtenay is not just a goal scorer. He has earned a reputation as one of the top passers in the league as well. His cross-ice pass on Aaron Power’s power-play goal Tuesday night against Columbia went through a half-dozen skates and sticks.
“It was sick,” Fitzsimmons said. “Only Ed could have made that pass. He sees the ice as well as anyone. His mind is one step ahead of everyone else even though his legs are probably two steps behind.”