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Stingrays Announce Multiple Transactions

February 23, 2021 - ECHL (ECHL) - South Carolina Stingrays News Release

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. - The South Carolina Stingrays, proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL's Washington Capitals and AHL's Hershey Bears, announced multiple roster transactions Tuesday. Defenseman Zach Malatesta has signed a professional tryout agreement with Hershey, while defender Tariq Hammond has signed a professional tryout agreement with the AHL's Henderson Silver Knights.

In addition, South Carolina has agreed to terms with defensemen Casey Johnson and Kyle Rhodes who have both signed standard ECHL player contracts.

Malatesta, 24, has scored points in each of his last five games with the Rays, including two goals in the third period of Saturday's game in Jacksonville to force overtime. The defender has totaled 11 points in 12 games this season for South Carolina on three goals and eight assists. Malatesta, a fourth-year pro, spent the first three years of his career with the Atlanta Gladiators from 2017-20. As one of Atlanta's alternate captains last year, the blueliner scored 34 points with 14 goals and 20 assists in 60 games.

Hammond, 27, has suited up in 20 games for the Stingrays this season while picking up four assists and a +4 rating. The defender is in his third pro season and second with South Carolina after playing with the Rays while on an AHL contract with the Hershey Bears during 2019-20. The Calgary, Alberta native led SC with a +29 rating last season that was tied for sixth in the ECHL while totaling 14 points on three goals and 11 assists in 56 games.

Johnson, 24, has played 14 games in the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) with the Macon Mayhem to begin his rookie professional season, posting six assists and a +8 rating. The native of Grand Forks, North Dakota played collegiately for his hometown team, the University of North Dakota for four seasons from 2016-2020.

Measuring 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, Johnson totaled 106 games in his UND career while posting 13 points with four goals and nine assists. He was part of a team that qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 2017 and helped win the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) regular season championship in 2019-20 as a senior. Prior to his time in the NCAA, Johnson spent the 2015-16 season with the USHL's Dubuque Fighting Saints and helped lead the team to the Clark Cup Final.

Rhodes, 23, has seen time in 17 contests with the SPHL's Huntsville Havoc in his second pro year, posting nine points on three goals and six assists with a +7 rating. The Ashburn, Virginia native previously spent time in the ECHL with the Tulsa Oilers during 2018-19, appearing in 50 games while earning 16 points (11g, 5a) and a +8 rating.

The 6-foot-3, 208-pound blueliner turned pro with the Indy Fuel in 2017-18 before signing with Tulsa. Rhodes played four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) from 2014-18, spending three seasons with the Guelph Storm before serving as captain of the Sudbury Wolves during the 2017-18 year. In 220 career OHL contests, Rhodes posted 47 points on 14 goals and 33 assists.

South Carolina returns to action on Wednesday night when they begin a 3-game series in Florida against the Everblades at 7:30 p.m.

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