Playoff Game Preview: Game 1- South Carolina at Kalamazoo, 7 p.m.
The #2 South Carolina Stingrays open the 2016 Kelly Cup Playoffs with a best-of-seven Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series with the #7 Kalamazoo Wings. South Carolina finished as the South Division Champions and are just a year removed from advancing to Game 7 of the Kelly Cup Finals. The Stingrays are looking to win an ECHL-best fourth Kelly Cup.
GOING FOR 100
The South Carolina Stingrays enter this evening's contest with 99 postseason wins in franchise history. The club's next victory would make them the first team in ECHL history to reach 100 wins in the postseason.
TWO RED HOT TEAMS
This series pins the two hottest teams in the ECHL head-to-head. Entering the postseason, the Stingrays have not lost in regulation since February 28. Over the past 16 games, the Stingrays are an impressive 12-0-3-1. In that span, the Stingrays outscored opponents 54-35. In goal, Vitek Vanecek recorded three shutouts during the streak. Kalamazoo finished the season on a 9-0-1-0 run, a streak that helped them advance to the postseason.
EXPERIENCE VS THE WINGS
While South Carolina has not played the Wings in the regular season since March 7, 2014, the Stingrays have several players who skated against many of the same Kalamazoo players last season. Defenseman Joey Leach had six assists in 13 games with Fort Wayne versus the Wings while former Kalamazoo forward David Pacan (six points in eight games) and Stephan Vigier (four points in seven games) each enjoyed success versus Kalamazoo with the Cincinnati Cyclones last year.
WINGS AND RAYS PLAYOFF HISTORY
This best-of-seven series is only the second time the Stingrays and Wings have met in the postseason since Kalamazoo joined the ECHL in 2009. The two teams met in the 2012 Kelly Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Wings took the series, 4-1.
This series features several of the ECHL's best goaltenders. Kalamazoo's Joel Martin played a league high 64 games and led the ECHL with 36 wins, 3,777 minutes played and 2,084 saves. South Carolina's Mark Dekanich finished second in the ECHL in save percentage at .925, while Vitek Vanecek finished second in goals against-average at 2.03. Additionally, Kalamazoo backup goaltender Clay Witt served as South Carolina's backup goalie during the 2015 playoffs.
#2 South Carolina Stingrays (44-18-7-3, 98 points, 2nd Eastern Conference, 1st South Division)
#7 Kalamazoo Wings (38-28-5-1, 82 points, 7th Eastern Conference, 3rd North Division)
Wings Event Center, 7 p.m.
WATCH/LISTEN MEDIA OPTIONS
WATCH PARTY AT KING STREET GRILLE-NORTHWOODS
Fans are encouraged to head to King Street Grille-Northwoods, to catch tonight's game. Fans 21 and up may enjoy a special offer of $3 Drafts, including Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, Shocktop and Landshark during all Stingrays Watch Parties at King Street Grille.
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