The South Carolina Stingrays, proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Washington Capitals and AHL’s Hershey Bears, have agreed to terms with defenseman Frankie Simonelli for the 2017-18 season. The native of Bensenville, Ill. is reunited with South Carolina for his fourth professional season after being part of a run to the Kelly Cup Finals with the Rays during his rookie year in 2015.
“Frankie is a player we’re familiar with from when he was down here a couple years ago,” said Stingrays Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Ryan Warsofsky. “He was a guy we really wanted to go after this summer and we’re really lucky to get him. He’s an elite player at our level and a guy that can play in all situations. I’m very excited to add Frankie to our group for next year.”
Simonelli, 24, spent last season with the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors and ECHL’s Norfolk Admirals. In six contests with Bakersfield, the defenseman recorded one assist and played a big role in Norfolk with 37 points (15 goals, 22 assists) in 49 games. The blueliner also appeared in 58 total games with the AHL’s Providence Bruins over the course of three seasons from 2014-16, posting three goals and eight assists for 11 points.
The 5-foot-10, 201-pound defender played 19 regular season games with the Stingrays during 2014-15 and scored 10 points on a goal and nine assists while adding a +11 rating. He then became a mainstay for the squad in the postseason, playing in 24 playoff contests with 10 points (three goals, seven assists).
“I loved it when I was there,” Simonelli said. “The team’s had a good track record since then, back to the finals last year, and hopefully we can get past that hump. It’s a good place to be, a good city with good fans, and a winning atmosphere. A lot of guys coming back have been deep in the playoffs and guys know how to win so it’s a good environment to be in.”
Before turning pro, Simonelli played at the University of Wisconsin for four seasons from 2010-2014. Totaling 155 NCAA games, the defenseman accounted for 61 points on 16 goals and 45 assists and served as team captain during his senior season. He also helped lead the team to two NCAA Tournament appearances with a WCHA Final Five Championship in 2013 and a Big Ten Tournament title in 2014.
“I like to contribute offensively and hopefully I’ll help the team get offense from our back end,” Simonelli said. “I can jump in the rush and be that fourth guy up, and then also play sound defense and not take risks that cost our team.”
Simonelli becomes the first defenseman added to South Carolina’s roster this summer, joining six forwards in Nick Roberto, Joe Devin, Patrick Gaul, Johnny McInnis, Trevor Gillies and Patrick Megannety for the 2017-18 season. More player signings are expected to be announced in the coming days and weeks.
“I still talk to Devin a lot actually,” Simonelli said. “We conversed back and forth this summer a little bit and last year playing against each other when I was in Norfolk, I was able to catch up with those guys. It makes it easier coming back to guys you’re familiar with and guys you’ve played with before.”
South Carolina opens its 25th anniversary 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.