Over the course of 21 games thus far into the 2020-21 season, the South Carolina Stingrays have compiled a record of 9-8-4 for 22 points. The team, though, has hit a rough patch, losing their last five games, averaging two goals a game. They’ve also allowed five goals per game.
During this time as well, the team’s chemistry has been both affected and benefited through recent signings and call-ups/reassignments. This has shown in the last ten games.
The Stingrays team chemistry took a hit on January 22nd when their AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, began training camp in preparation for their upcoming season. The beginning of Hershey’s training camp would see Caleb Herbert, Mason Morelli, Macoy Erkamps and Will Graber depart the Rays and join Hershey for training camp. In addition, they would also would sign goaltender Alex Dubeau to a professional tryout agreement.
This would leave them searching for a replacement to back up Jake Kupsky, now the starter for the Stingrays. The team, in no time, would announce the signing of rookie goalie Craig Pantano, while trying to fill in the missing pieces in the lineup.
After the loss of such key players to Hershey, the Stingrays chemistry took a bit of a hit, and more than anything, it was noticeable. Over the next 10 games following the several losses, South Carolina would go 2-7-1.
During this run, the team would add players such as Paul Meyer, Cole Fraser, Blake Hillman and forward Graham Knott. Anthony Collins returned as well, while trying to experiment with new lines to spark some chemistry. This both helped and hurt the Stingrays.
While players like Fraser, Hillman and Knott would provide a spark to a team that was missing it, four others would be released in Frédéric Létourneau, Craig Pantano, Paul Meyer and Daniel Fritz.
Pantano only played in one game before being released and was replaced by Sean Bonar. Paul Meyer and Daniel Fritz combined for three, with Meyer registering the only point before the two were both let go. Létourneau would only play in five games, where he tallied one point before the team set him free.
The question here is, how much have recent player signings helped and/or hurt South Carolina? Personally, I believe there’s a risk and reward in sports when it comes to the teams signing players to contracts. This can be seen with the Stingrays.
While players like, Knott, Hillman and Fraser have helped to reignite some much-needed chemistry, ultimately, the loss of key players have had a massive impact, hence dwindling team chemistry.
There’s evidence to this claim, as the Stingrays have struggled through their past 10 games. I believe the South Carolina can right this ship and really turn things around. There’s obviously the possibility, for one, that someone mentioned above could be sent back to the Stingrays. Ultimately though, I believe with time, head coach Ryan Blair will figure out which lines produce the best chemistry, thus allowing the franchise to find their groove and momentum again.
Hopefully, for the sake of the fans, that starts to happen sooner rather than later, as the team is currently sitting in fifth and continue to fall given their on-ice production as of late. Time will only tell, though, if things will progressively get better, or if the Stingrays are in serious trouble. What do you think? Let us know in the comment box below.