By Andrew Miller
The Post and Courier
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – During the regular season, the South Carolina Stingrays were one of the least penalized teams in the ECHL.
In the Kelly Cup Playoffs, however, the Stingrays have suddenly become the reincarnation of the Broad Street Bullies.
In the first two games of their best-of-seven South Division series with Charlotte, the Stingrays have been whistled for 32 penalties. The Stingrays’ 81 penalty minutes are tops for any team in the playoffs — by a significant margin.
The series moves to the North Charleston Coliseum for the next three games, with Game 3 on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m.
Stingrays head coach Jared Bednar said that while the officiating has been a little tighter during the playoffs, most of the penalties have been of the undisciplined variety.
“The players have to adjust to the way the games are being called,” Bednar said. “If the refs are calling the games tighter, then as a player, you’ve got to realize that and understand that you’re not going to get away with certain things. The bottom line is that we’ve been undisciplined and it has cost us. That’s why we’re down 0-2 right now.”
Through the first two games of the series, the Checkers have been on 23 power plays, including seven, two-man advantages. The Checkers are 5 of 23 on the power play.
The Stingrays have been in this position before.
In the playoffs a year ago, South Carolina opened with two straight losses to Augusta on the road before winning the next three games and taking the series.
Defenseman Johann Kroll is expected to be back in the Lowcountry later today, but is not expected to be in the lineup tonight. Kroll recorded two assists in 26 games with the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League. Kroll had a goal and 21 assists in 40 games with the Stingrays before being called up to Syracuse on Jan. 31. He is still slowed by an injury he suffered nearly three weeks ago with the Crunch.
“I don’t know if Johann has been cleared to play,” Bednar said. “I know he’s been skating some during practice. We’ll take a look at him on Wednesday and see how’s he is doing. We’re hoping to have him back for Game 4.”
Travis Morin, meanwhile, was called up to Hershey on Sunday, but was back in the Lowcountry Monday afternoon. Morin had an assist in the Bears’ 5-4 loss to Wilkes-Barre Scranton. Morin said the extra travel and game won’t be an issue tonight.
“I didn’t get to play very much up ice time in Hershey, so I don’t see it being a problem,” Morin said. “I’m used to logging a lot of ice time.”