The Carolina Hurricanes
aren't the only team from the south to a have a deep playoff run this spring. The South Carolina Stingrays won their third Kelly Cup by beating the Alaska Aces, 4-2, in Game 7 of the ECHL championship series.
South Carolina is the second team in the 21-year history of the league to win three championships.
After jumping to a 3-1 series lead, the Stingrays had a chance to win the championship in front of their home fans, but lost 3-2 in overtime, meaning a 15-hour trek back to Anchorage, Alaska, where the last two games of the series were played.
While Stingrays coach Jared Bednar
would have preferred winning the championship at home, he was excited his team was able to bounce back and win the series.
"We couldn't have been any further from home when we won," Bednar told NHL.com. "We were in Anchorage, Alaska, which is more than 4,500 miles from South Carolina. It was really good winning there and their fans were very nice, gracious and complimentary of our team.
"The last series was awful for travel. We started up there and played two games. We had a chance to close them out in Game 5 at home, but we were unable to do so and we had to travel all the way back up there. The travel there was hard because it's not only the time that it takes to get there, but the four-hour time difference, as well."
"We couldn't have been any further from home when we won. We were in Anchorage, Alaska, which is more than 4,500 miles from South Carolina. It was really good winning there and their fans were very nice, gracious and complimentary of our team."
-- Stingrays coach Jared Bednar
Bednar also became the first person in ECHL history to win three Kelly Cups, following titles as a Stingrays defenseman in 1997 and 2001.
Alaska won Game 6, 3-2, but their chance for a memorable comeback were put to rest when South Carolina center Pierre-Luc O'Brien scored an empty-net goal with 24.1 seconds left. O'Brien's goal came after Alaska had cut the Stingrays' lead to 3-2 on right wing Matt Stefanishion
's sixth goal.
South Carolina battled through a lot of adversity to win their first title since 2001, including a 2-0 series deficit in the first round against the Charlotte Checkers.
After allowing five goals in his first and only game of the first round, few would have predicted rookie goalie James Reimer
to be named playoffs MVP, but Reimer came back in the next round against the Florida Everblades.
Reimer, who was drafted in the fourth round (No. 99) of the 2006 Entry Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs
, played just eight games as he and Jonathan Boutin
split duties. Reimer finished with a 2.17 goals-against average, a .929 save percentage and the win in Game 7 of the Kelly Cup Final.
"He played really well for us the whole time he was here," Bednar said. "In his first couple games he played really well for us and he never faltered after that. He was very good in goal for us. We played both of our goalies in the playoffs because both of them are very capable and we played a goalie until he lost in the playoffs."
led the Stingrays with 24 points in the club's 23-game playoff run, and Maxime Lacroix
, a 2006 Washington fifth-round pick (No. 127), led the league with 13 goals.
Contact Adam Schwartz at email@example.com