The South Carolina Stingrays, proud National Hockey League affiliate of the Washington Capitals and American Hockey League affiliate of the Hershey Bears, have announced a new agreement with head coach Ryan Warsofsky, who had success in his first year as the team’s leader behind the bench during the 2016-17 season.
Warsofsky, who served as an assistant coach from 2013-16, was named the seventh head coach in team history last summer and guided the club to 40 wins during the regular season before a memorable playoff run and an appearance in the Kelly Cup Finals.
“Ryan made tremendous strides in his first year as the head coach of the Stingrays leading our team to a very impressive Kelly Cup run,” said Stingrays President Rob Concannon. “We are very lucky to have a great leader like Ryan and felt it was important to reward him for his efforts and accomplishments as we head into our 25th anniversary season.”
A native of Marshfield, Mass., Warsofsky led the team to three playoff series victories in the postseason with defeats of division rivals Greenville and Florida before winning his first-ever Game 7 as a head coach, defeating Manchester on the road to advance to the league’s championship round. He also became the second-youngest coach in ECHL history to lead his team to the league finals.
“I’m excited to re-sign and be back in the best organization in the ECHL,” said Warsofsky. “This organization got me my foot in the door and gave me this great opportunity. It’s a humbling experience and my wife and I are very excited to stay in South Carolina.”
Warsofsky picked up his first win as a head coach in Florida against the Everblades with an overtime victory on Oct. 28 and led his squad to a season-high 7-game winning streak that spanned from Dec. 27 through Jan. 8. The bench boss was also part of two other late runs in the postseason as an assistant coach during the 2015 and 2016 Kelly Cup Playoffs.
“The ultimate goal is to win a championship,” Warsofsky said. “We want to develop players and people and be good in our community but we want to win a championship. We’ve gotten some good cracks at it the last three years and when that game against Colorado was over and done with we had to reflect but now we turn the page and try to build that next great South Carolina hockey team.”
South Carolina had the third-best penalty killing unit in the league during the regular season at 84.9%, including an 87.8% mark at home. Coach Warsofsky also had his team focused for some of the most important matchups as the Stingrays went 30-16-3-1 in the team’s 50 regular season games against South Division opponents.
“We are thrilled with Ryan's performance this season - as exhibited by our Eastern Conference Championship and appearance in the Kelly Cup Finals - in his first year as a head coach,” said Stingrays owner Jonathan Zucker, on behalf of the Zucker Family. “Ryan has been a tremendous asset to the South Carolina Stingrays, and we are excited to continue the great momentum into our 25th season of hockey in the Lowcountry with Ryan behind the bench.”
The Stingrays led the ECHL in shots allowed per game, giving up an average of just 27.53 shots on goal per contest and had a record of 26-14-1 when they out-shot their opponent. The Rays were also one of the best overtime teams in the ECHL during the regular season, winning 10 contests of their 15 that needed extra time.
Warsofsky entered coaching after a one-year professional career and four years of college hockey that included 71 games split between Sacred Heart University and Curry College.
“I want to thank the Zucker family, Rob Concannon and the entire organization,” Warsofsky said. “They’ve had my back since day one. They’re an extremely supportive organization to work for and honestly, I’m truly grateful to be working with such great people.”
South Carolina opens the season in front of their home fans at the North Charleston Coliseum on Oct. 20 against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits at 7:05 p.m.