By Andrew Miller
The Post and Courier
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – South Carolina Stingray Evan Schwabe might not be the biggest guy on the ice. He might not be the fastest skater or the strongest player or possess the hardest slap shot.
But the former University of Minnesota-Duluth star might be one of the smartest players on the ice, and over the last three weeks he’s also been the team’s most productive player.
Over the last 10 games, Schwabe has 12 points on five goals and seven assists with a plus-minus rating of plus-9.
“Evan has a pretty high hockey IQ,” said Stingrays head coach Jason Fitzsimmons. “He’s not the biggest guy in the world and he’s not the fastest guy on the ice, but he always seems to be in the right place positionally. To me that’s just as important as how fast a guy skates or how hard a shot he has.”
Fitzsimmons said Schwabe reminds him of another former Stingrays all-star – winger Brendan Concannon.
“They have very similar styles, and Brendan was a 40-goal scorer in this league,” Fitzsimmons said. “Evan might be a little faster. He’s got very deceptive speed. He’s zero to 60 mph in two or three strides. He’s shifty, too. It’s hard to get a solid hit on him.”
Schwabe’s offensive production should come as no surprise to Fitzsimmons. Schwabe entered the ECHL with impressive collegiate credentials. Over this final two years at Minnesota-Duluth, Schwabe was among the NCAA’s leading scorers with 102 points on 38 goals and 64 assists.
“He’s a very offensive-minded player,” Fitzsimmons said. “It’s very easy to see how he put up those numbers in college.”
Schwabe began the season in Las Vegas, but with a bench full of American Hockey League prospect, the 5-8, 155-pound rookie managed to break into the Wranglers lineup for just one game.
“(Las Vegas) had a lot of contract players and I could see I wasn’t going to get much playing time,” Schwabe said. “They just had too many bodies and I was kind of the odd man out.”
With Cail MacLean for the Stingrays out of the lineup with a bruised thigh, Fitzsimmons needed some offensive help and traded for Schwabe, paying the Wranglers an undisclosed amount of cash for the former All-American.
“To be honest, I was a little relieved when I got traded to South Carolina,” Schwabe said. “I felt like I was going to have better chance of getting on the ice.”
After a slow start with the Stingrays, Schwabe has caught fire. In 24 games, Schwabe has seven goals and 11 assists for 18 points.
“By the time I got here, they were 10, 11 games into the season, so it took me a while to get caught up,” Schwabe said.
Schwabe will likely add to his point total Friday against Augusta, a team he has had plenty of success against this season. Schwabe has nine points on three goals and six assists already in six games against the Lynx.
“Honestly, I don’t know what it is about Augusta,” Schwabe said. “Some nights the puck goes in and some nights it doesn’t. It just seems to go in more often against them and I don’t know why that is. Sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason to it.”