As the Stingrays get ready to begin their Kelly Cup Playoff run on Friday against Wheeling, there's a big piece of their success from the regular season that will be missing. Goalie Jeff Jakaitis, who was named ECHL goaltender of the year on Thursday, will miss the postseason after suffering a knee injury late in the year.
Jakaitis put up huge numbers this season ranking in the top 5 in the ECHL in Goals Against Average, Save percentage and wins. So replacing him won't be easy, but the Rays are confident they have guys who can step up.
"We don't think it changes too much other than the fact that JJ is a heck of a goaltender" said Rays Head Coach Spencer Carbery. "We feel comfortable with him back there, but at the same time Allen York and (Pheonix) Copley have played very, very good. So we're confident with our goaltenders. We think both of them can win playoff games."
The 1st option between the pipes will be Allen York, who's been with the team since January. And having a guy with NHL experience to fall back on isn't bad.
"He's a very, very talented goaltender for our level. He's played in the NHL, played for the Columbus Blue Jackets. He has a ton of experience So his skills and talent are right there." Carbery said. "On any given night he's able to steal a game for you"
"I feel good where my game is at" York said. "I've been working hard down the stretch and we've all been playing well defensively. So, I feel confident right now and hopefully that carries into the playoffs"
The other option is 22 year old Pheonix Copley and even though he's so young, with only 3 games experience at this level, the Rays seem to like what they've seen.
"He doesn't seem to get flustered by what's at stake or the circumstances. So I don't think the playoffs being at stake would bother him whatsoever" Carbery said.
"I'm excited obviously" Copley said. "It's the playoffs so everyone is excited for these games. So, if I get in there, I'm gonna be really excited, really pumped up."
As for who'll start game 1 on Friday night, right now Carbery isn't saying.
"We're gonna play that by ear. We feel comfortable with both guys. We'll see on Friday who we'd like to start but we don't have a clear cut guy that's going to play every night. We'll make adjustments and personal changes if we have to and we'll play who we feel gives us the best opportunity to win." Carbery said.
But whoever plays they'll have some big shoes to fill as the rays look to win their 4th Kelly Cup title.