NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. - The South Carolina Stingrays, proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Washington Capitals and AHL’s Hershey Bears, have agreed to terms with three rookie skaters for the 2019-20 season including forward Mitch Vanderlaan (pronounced VAN-der-lan) and defensemen Spencer Trapp and Meirs Moore (pronounced MEERS).
Vanderlaan served as a two-year captain at Cornell University, helping lead the Big Red to three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. The Hanwell, New Brunswick native posted a career-high 30 points in 36 games last season as a senior on 11 goals and 19 assists. After his team’s season came to an end Vanderlaan appeared in his first two professional games on April 5-6 after signing a professional try-out contract with the AHL’s Utica Comets.
“We’re really excited about Mitch,” said Stingrays Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations, Steve Bergin. “He’s a guy that we’ve been keying in on since the spring. His coaches at Cornell speak very highly of him, Matt Nuttle has spoken very highly of him, and he’s a guy that is a bit undersized but competes hard, is a really good leader, and can play up and down your lineup. I heard he’s always competing, is always in the middle of the action and doesn’t back down.”
Vanderlaan, 24, finished his collegiate career with 97 points (41 goals, 56 assists) in 132 contests, playing all four of his years alongside Nuttle. His highest goal total (15) came during his sophomore season in 2016-17. While at Cornell, the 5-foot-7, 175-pound attacker earned All-Ivy League honors three times.
“Coach Bergin is someone I’m happy to play for,” Vanderlaan said. “He has his mind set on what he wants to achieve. I talked to Matt Nuttle too who had come down and played at the end of the year. He enjoyed it and told me about the good experience he had. Having someone I knew come down and enjoy it made it a little easier making my decision.”
Trapp comes to South Carolina after spending his last four seasons with Holy Cross, posting 68 points on the blueline in 139 games with the Crusaders. Most recently, the 23-year-old totaled six goals and 13 assists while appearing in all of his team’s 36 games as a senior. His point total ranked third among all Holy Cross skaters and at the conclusion of the 2018-19 year, Trapp signed an ECHL contract with the Worcester Railers and notched an assist in his pro debut on March 17.
“Spencer was one of the top defenders in his conference and has had good offensive numbers in his career while also defending really well,” Bergin said. “I love that he got in that game for Worcester because now, even for a short period of time, he’s been in the league and knows where he stands. He’s seen the hockey, so he knows exactly what he needs to do coming into camp to fit into our system. He’s a really good two-way defenseman who can play in all situations and was relied upon at Holy Cross as their top defenseman so we’re looking forward to getting him here and working with him.”
Measuring six-feet, 204-pounds, Trapp also led Holy Cross in defensive scoring as a junior in 2017-18 and tied for first on the team with 16 assists as a sophomore in 2016-17. He was honored with the team’s Defensive Player of the Year award in each of the last three seasons.
“I wanted to come to a team that has a winning culture, where I would be able to step right in and play some solid minutes and get some good exposure,” Trapp said. “I felt really comfortable with what Coach Bergin had to say and his vision for the team so that was the big ticket for why I chose South Carolina.”
Moore is slated to make his professional debut this fall after completing a 4-year career at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) that consisted of 105 games. Traditionally a blueliner, the 24-year-old also played forward during times of need for the Engineers.
“I think any time you get someone that has played that many Division I collegiate games, obviously they had to bring something to the lineup.” Bergin said. “He’s an undersized guy who has a lot of skill and adds grit for his size. He’s a guy that can do it all, play in a lot of different situations and scenarios, even play different positions to help fill-in whatever you need. He’s going to be looked on to come in and compete for a roster spot and playing time.”
A native of Duluth, Minn., Moore totaled 17 points over his four collegiate campaigns on five goals and 12 assists. Before enrolling at RPI, the 5-foot-9, 185-pound skater played 60 junior games in the United States Hockey League (USHL) with the Sioux City Musketeers and Fargo Force.
“I’m a responsible two-way defenseman with puck-moving ability and vision to make plays,” Moore said. I also have the ability to play forward too so I’m kind of a swiss army knife. In college I played center and wing as well as defense and had time on both our power play and penalty kill so I experienced all the different positions and I can adapt to the team’s needs. I know there’s a winning culture in Charleston for hockey and I’m excited to be a part of that.”