When it comes to listing all-time stars of the South Carolina Stingrays franchise, countless names come to mind right away. Braden Holtby, Martin Biron, Rich Peverley and James Reimer are just a few of the current and former NHL players, who at one point, took to the ice at the North Charleston Coliseum in Charleston.
However, not all iconic Stingrays would end up playing in the NHL. When assigned the task of picking only three stars in the hockey club’s history, I decided to look at players who left an impact in some way in South Carolina during their time, whether they made it to the NHL or not.
Born on March 15th, 1988 in Arborg, Manitoba, James Reimer currently stands at six-foot-two, weighs 220 pounds and plays for the Carolina Hurricanes. In addition, Reimer has spent time with the Toronto Maple Leafs, San Jose Sharks and Florida Panthers. He is easily one of the most notable goalies to have come through South Carolina and perhaps one of the team’s most notable alumni in general.
In 2006, Reimer was selected by the Maple Leafs with the 99th pick in round four of the draft. Following his selection, he was sent back to Red Deer in the WHL so he could further develop. This was the case in back-to-back years.
There, he would backstop the Rebels before having been sidelined due to an ankle injury. That would limit his play through his finals two seasons there. Over three seasons in Red Deer, Reimer would start 124 games. As such, he averaged a .910, .912 and .916 save percentage throughout his tenure with the team in major junior.
In 2008, Reimer made his debut in pro hockey with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL. He played in three games with the Marlies, posting a save percentage of .882. That included a GAA of 3.28 before his demotion to Reading. He would play 22 games with the Royals, posting a GAA of 3.30. That also included a save percentage of .904 before the Stingrays traded him.
Upon his arrival in South Carolina, Reimer’s numbers would greatly improve, posting a GAA of 1.32. That was joined by a save percentage of .961. Reimer would continue this during the playoffs, posting a GAA of 2.17. He added a .929 save percentage in eight games played en route to the Kelly Cup championship. It would be their third while he also won MVP.
Following his tenure with the Stingrays, Reimer would start the 2009-10 season in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies. In 26 games played, he produced an amazing .925 save percentage. The following year would see him once again suit upon again with the Marlies hockey club. That was for 15 games before getting the call up to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
He would make his first appearance in relief for Jonas Gustavsson against the Atlanta Thrashers. That was back on December 20th, 2010. Reimer played 14 minutes in the game’s third period, stopping all four shots he faced. He would make his first NHL start against the Ottawa Senators on Jan 1, 2011. There, he would pick up his first career win in a 5-1 victory.
He would go on to play 37 games throughout that same season with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He posted a .921 save percentage and. 2.60 GAA. Reimer quickly became a quick fan favourite during his rookie season, earning the nickname “Optimus Reim.”
Reimer would go on to play six seasons with the Maple Leafs before having been traded at the 2015-16 NHL trade deadline. Toronto would send him to the San Jose Sharks. Reimer would only suit up for eight games following the trade to San Jose while posting a very good .938 save percentage. This included a GAA of 1.62.
During the offseason, he would sign with the Florida Panthers, suiting up for three seasons and 123 games. He split time with Roberto Luongo before being traded this past season to the Hurricanes. In total, Reimer has spent 11 seasons in the National Hockey League, playing 363 games. He’s done so between four different teams.
Reimer has consistently put up solid numbers throughout his career in the NHL. However, he’ll always remember the Stingrays for revitalizing his career. Fans will remember him fondly for his contributions as well as his leadership. It’s what helped them en route to capturing their third Kelly Cup championship. This makes him an easy choice for notable alumni in team history.
As aforementioned, not all of the stars I have selected have actually made it to the NHL. However, no conversation about iconic Stingrays alumni would be complete without mentioning the man who holds the franchise record for points, assists and goals – David Seitz.
Born on February 2nd, 1974 in Buffalo, New York, Seitz is a household name for any fan of the South Carolina Stingrays. Standing at five-foot-ten and weighing in at 185 pounds, the forward joined South Carolina in 1996-1997. Over the next eight years, the lefty would leave a lasting impact on the franchise.
Seitz’s professional hockey career started with the Stingrays began back in 1996. He signed with South Carolina following his four-year tenure with the Clarkson Golden Knights. During his time at Clarkson, Seitz recorded 45 goals along with 60 assists for 105 points. He did so in 129 games.
Following a successful collegiate career, Seitz signed with the Stingrays and immediately made an impact on the team. During his rookie season, Seitz recorded 43 goals along with 54 assists which made for 97 points. He did so in 58 games.
Seitz continued his tear throughout the playoffs, adding on nine goals along with 15 assists. That made for 24 points in 17 games en route to their first Kelly Cup Championship. Seitz would spend the next eight years with the Stingrays hockey club, continuing to be an offensive threat.
He added another Kelly Cup Championship along with MVP honours in 2000-2001. In addition to his time with the Stingrays, Seitz would make small appearances in both the IHL and the AHL. Between the two, he added three points.
Seitz would finish his career with 217 goals along with 370 assists. That made for 587 points in 489 regular season matches. He would add another 29 goals along with 44 assists which made for 73 points. He did so through 58 playoff games. The forward’s career numbers are good enough for first all-time in Stingrays franchise history. He would lead the categories of goals, points and assists.
He finishes ranked sixth in league history with 384 assists, 11th with 587 points and 20th in goals with 217. Because of this, Seitz was inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2011-2012. He will forever be remembered and immortalized by Stingrays fans for the contributions and championships he brought to the city of Charleston, South Carolina.
The third and final star of the South Carolina Stingrays, in my opinion, goes to the team captain, Andrew Cherniwchan. Born April 20th, 1989 in Hinton, Alberta, Cherniwchan currently stands at five-foot-eleven and weighs 181 pounds. In addition to his career in the Lowcountry so far, Cherniwchan has been up and down in the American Hockey League for brief stints and call-ups. He’s done so with the Springfield Falcons, Providence Bruins, Utica Comets and Hershey Bears.
Cherniwchan began his pro hockey career with the South Carolina Stingrays in 2011-2012. That of course upon completion of his collegiate hockey career at Northern Michigan University. He would finish his time with the Wildcats scoring 35 goals along with 49 assists. Through 146 games, that would make for a total of 84 points.
In total, over the course of his career so far, Cherniwchan has scored 25 goals along with 21 assists which made for 46 points. He did so in 173 games. In addition to his AHL points totals, Cherniwchan, in the ECHL, tallied 104 goals along with 117 assists. That made for 221 points in 276 games, which he would play in through nine seasons.