By Andrew Miller
The Post and Courier
As a goaltender and later as an assistant coach, Jason Fitzsimmons hated to play against Rod Taylor.
Well, he won’t have to worry about that anymore after Taylor, the East Coast Hockey League’s all-time leading goal scorer, signed with the Stingrays on Monday.
Taylor, who has 360 career goals in the ECHL, will play this morning when the Stingrays travel to Augusta, Ga., to take on the Lynx. The 36-year-old Taylor has not played this season.
“We needed a player to come in and help this lineup right away,” said Fitzsimmons. “Having a player like Rod Taylor instantly makes us a better team. He is a proven goal scorer that comes to compete every night.
“When I was a player and again as an assistant coach, I hated to play against Rod. He plays with an edge. He’s a very gritty player that knows how to win. He can kill penalties and play on the power play. We welcome Rod with open arms.”
Taylor, who will turn 37 next month, played for Roanoke and Richmond a year ago, scoring 14 goals and adding 35 assists for 49 points in 54 games. In 11 seasons, Taylor has 670 career points, 16 shy of the ECHL’s all-time scoring record.
Taylor won Kelly Cup titles with Hampton Roads in 1991 and 1998. He played with current Stingrays Marty Clapton and Trevor Johnson at Hampton Roads. “Rod is a guy who leads by example; he’s one of those quiet leaders,” Fitzsimmons said. “There were a lot of other teams out there trying to get Rod, so we feel very fortunate that we were able to sign him.”
Taylor, a veteran of 643 ECHL games, will be able to fit into the Stingrays’ lineup because team captain Brett Marietti is out with a knee injury. Each team is allowed to dress four veteran players per game. With the addition of Taylor, the Stingrays will have five veteran players on their roster. “Rod knew the deal when he signed,” Fitzsimmons said. “Brett will probably be back after Christmas and when Brett comes back we’ll have to make a decision. I hope it’s a difficult decision. A lot can happen between now and then.”
The Stingrays will be a little shorthanded for this morning’s game with Augusta.
Center Dave Seitz was suspended for two games by the ECHL when he “delivered a forceful two-handed slash to the hand of a Reading player” during the second period of the Stingrays’ game with the Royals on Nov. 22. Seitz was assessed a minor penalty on the play.
“I called the league, but they made their decision,” Fitzsimmons said. Defenseman Brent Henley had surgery on his hand and will be out for at least a week. Rugged winger Robin Gomez will also miss today’s game due to an illness in his family.
Today’s game with Augusta, set for 11 a.m., will not be aired on WTMA 1250-AM. It can be heard on the Stingrays’ internet site at stingrayshockey.com.