Stingrays Bring Back Defenseman Joey Leach
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. - The South Carolina Stingrays, proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL's Washington Capitals and AHL's Hershey Bears, announced they have agreed to terms with defenseman Joey Leach for the 2018-19 season. Leach embarks on his sixth professional season and his fourth year with the Stingrays organization.
"My family and I are excited about coming back to South Carolina," Leach said. "I've been there three years now, so I know a lot of people and know the organization pretty well. We're really happy with our decision."
The 26-year-old blueliner spent most of his 2017-18 campaign in South Carolina and scored a career-high 26 points (five goals, 21 assists) in 61 contests while racking up a +18 rating. Leach also saw action in five games with the AHL's Hartford Wolfpack during late February and early March.
"It's great to have one of our team leaders and one of the best defensemen in the ECHL back for his fourth season with the Stingrays," said Stingrays President Rob Concannon. "Last year he had his best offensive season in the ECHL. He's one of those guys that you count on to play big minutes and this year will be no different. Joey is a leader on and off the ice for the Stingrays and we're lucky to have somebody like him back in the organization."
During the 2016-17 season, Leach split his time between South Carolina and Hershey, playing 35 games with the Stingrays and 18 with the Bears before helping SC in 22 playoff games during the team's run to the Kelly Cup Finals. He managed 20 points (four goals, 16 assists) in South Carolina and posted three assists for Hershey before adding a goal and five assists in the postseason.
The native of Wadena, Sask. measures 6-foot-3, 203-pounds and has now played in 265 career ECHL games with South Carolina, the Fort Wayne Komets and the Bakersfield Condors. During that time, he's totaled 90 points on 17 goals and 73 assists. He has also contributed seven assists in 45 career AHL games for Hartford, Hershey, the Lake Erie Monsters and the Oklahoma City Barons.
New Stingrays head coach Spiros Anastas will be the third bench boss Leach has played for during his time with South Carolina, but the veteran said he didn't expect his new leader to change much of what he's known about the organization.
"With Rob and Coach Bergin and everyone else there it doesn't really change too much," Leach said. "We've got a solid group of guys coming back that were here last year, so you know the familiar faces and stuff. It would've taken a lot to get me to leave South Carolina, so it's definitely nice to still know a lot of familiar faces there."
Previously a third-round selection of the Calgary Flames in the 2010 NHL Draft, Leach played four years of junior hockey in the Western Hockey League (WHL) with the Kootenay Ice where he was an offensive threat from the blue line, scoring 77 points in his final two seasons. He made his professional debut on the back end in 2012 with the AHL's Barons.
"I'm looking forward to getting back on the ice with the guys," said Leach. "It's great to get around the dressing room and see some new faces. You make some great relationships with the guys here, that's one of the main things I look forward to along with the competitiveness of getting into training camp and the start of the season. I'm thrilled to be part of the team again and try to do something special."
Leach becomes the fourth defenseman and 16th player under contract with the Stingrays for the 2018-19 season. More player signings are expected to be announced in the coming days and weeks.
The 26th season of South Carolina Stingrays hockey begins in Jacksonville against the Icemen on October 13. The Stingrays will open their home schedule versus Greenville on Saturday, October 20.
Season tickets are on sale now! For more information or to purchase, contact the Stingrays by phone at 843-744-2248 or visit 3300 W. Montague Ave. Suite A-200 during business hours.
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