Stingrays Agree to Terms with Forward Nick Johnson
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. - The South Carolina Stingrays, proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL's Washington Capitals and AHL's Hershey Bears, have agreed to terms with forward Nick Johnson for the 2017-18 season. Johnson will make his North American professional debut with South Carolina after playing seven seasons of pro hockey overseas.
"Nick is a player we've had our eye on the last couple years," said Stingrays Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Ryan Warsofsky. "He's played overseas and had a couple really good years there. We believe he's a guy that can be a top-6 forward here in North America and also help some younger players as a veteran leader in our locker room."
Johnson has played for four different professional teams in Europe, including 239 regular season games over six seasons with HC Plzen in the Czech Republic where he put up 113 total points. Johnson had back-to-back 30-point seasons with HC Plzen in 2014-15 and 2015-16. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound scorer played 28 games for HC Plzen last season before skating with another Czech team, HC Dynamo Pardubice, and Grizzlys Wolfsburg of the German professional league (DEL).
Warsofsky and Johnson already know each other pretty well, having played together as teammates at Sacred Heart University from 2007-09.
"He came in a year after me and we spent a good two and a half years together at Sacred Heart," Johnson said. "After college, I went right over to Europe so I've never played pro in the states. Spending seven years there I had a ton of great experiences but I really wanted to come home and play in the states. "Charleston was always on my radar. I have heard a lot of great things about it being a great place to play, it's a beautiful city and it was always right there on the top of my list if I wanted to come back to the states."
In four seasons with Sacred Heart from 2006-10, Johnson scored 107 points on 47 goals and 60 assists in 130 games. After his senior year, Johnson was named First Team All-Conference by the Atlantic Hockey Association as well as a New England Men's Division I All-Star.
The native of Windsor, Conn. was also able to consult some of his family about playing with the Stingrays, as brothers Keith (2008-10) and Gregg (2009-10) have previously played for South Carolina. Keith was a member of the 2009 Kelly Cup Championship team, while Gregg joined the following season. During the 2009-10 regular season, Keith and Gregg finished second and third on the team in scoring with 63 and 61 points respectively, combining for 49 goals and 124 points.
Just like his brothers, Nick also considers himself a scoring threat who enjoys getting to the net and bringing excitement to the game.
"I think of myself as a goal scorer," Johnson said. "A lot of my goals throughout my whole career have come from right around the net. That's where I usually hang out and earn my keep so you can definitely expect me to be around the net and cash in on a few goals there."
Johnson, who will be 31-years-old at the start of the 2017-18 season, is an older member of the team who is excited to take on a leadership role.
"I'm going there to produce but also to be a teacher to these young professionals that are just starting off," Johnson said. "I've spent my whole career in Europe and not in the states, but I definitely have a lot of experience and knowledge of the game. That's an attractive part of going down there is helping these younger kids, teaching them a few things I've learned along the way and being a mentor by showing them the ropes."
Johnson is the ninth forward under contract with South Carolina and the 15th player signed for the 2017-18 year. More player additions are expected to be announced in the coming days and weeks leading up to October.
"The team obviously had a great year last year going to the finals and in talking with Ryan it seems like we'll have another talented squad," Johnson said. "It will be fun to make another run at it and hopefully we get over the hump and win it like my brother did back in '09."
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