By Andrew Miller
The Post and Courier
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – It took Craig Olynick a couple of seasons, but the Stingrays defenseman has finally settled into his role with the team.
Last season, Olynick struggled with his offensive touch and his discipline. This season, the third-year pro has shown more patience on the ice.
South Carolina acquired Olynick just before Christmas last season in a trade with Toledo that involved defenseman Doug Andress. In 39 games with the Stingrays last season, Olynick had 14 points, on one goal and 13 assists. He also had 115 penalty minutes.
“When we brought Craig in we were hoping to get a player that was responsible in our defensive zone and a player that could add a little offense to our blue line,” said assistant coach Jared Bednar. “I think it took Craig a little while to adjust to this conference and our systems. I thought there were times last season when Craig was a little undisciplined and that hurt his game.”
What a difference a season makes. With defensemen J.F. David in Europe and Aaron Power in the American Hockey League, Olynick’s role with the team has increased.In 45 games this season, Olynick has a career-high 15 points, on eight goals and seven assists. He also has just 89 penalty minutes.
“Craig’s never going to win the Lady Byng (the NHL’s individual trophy for best sportsmanship and gentlemanly play), but he’s been a lot more disciplined this season,” Bednar said. “He’s really matured this season, and he’s a lot more sound defensively. I think he has found his comfort zone with this team.”
Olynick’s eight goals have been a welcome addition for the Stingrays’ blue line, which has struggled putting up points all season.
“Craig’s got one of the hardest shots I’ve ever seen,” Bednar said. “We’ve never tested it, but I’d bet it was above 100 mph. He came out of junior hockey with some pretty impressive offensive numbers. I just think it took him some time to figure this league out.”