Steve Bergin steps down as head coach of Stingrays

Steve Bergin steps down as head coach of Stingrays
Stingrays head coach Steve Bergin was named ECHL Coach of the Year on Tuesday (Source: Live 5 News)

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — The South Carolina Stingrays, proud ECHL affiliate of the Washington Capitals and Hershey Bears, have announced that head coach and director of hockey operations Steve Bergin has accepted a new position outside the ECHL.

VIDEO: Steve Bergin steps down as Stingrays head coach

Bergin, who served as an assistant coach for three years from 2016-19 before taking over as the ninth head coach in team history prior to the 2019-20 season, guided the Stingrays to the ECHL’s best regular season record in his only campaign.

“Moving on from this organization and city is the hardest decision that I have ever had to make in my life. It is never easy to move on from a place that has given you so much. I loved my time here and will never forget the people that I was able to work and develop relationships with. I would like to thank our owner Todd Halloran for the opportunity and trust in me to coach this team. The staff, Ryan Blair, Rick Covard, Cameron Parker and Jared Shafran, for all the hard work and dedication they have put into the success of this organization. The players, who without your sacrifice and dedication, none of our team’s success would have been possible. The relationships I have built with you guys will be something I will never forget. I would like to thank Jason Fitzsimmons for his support and guidance throughout my four years here. Not only in hockey, but more importantly, off the ice. He has been a great example of true character. Most importantly, I would like to thank Rob Concannon and Ryan Warsofsky for giving me the opportunity four years ago to be a part of this organization and for teaching me what it means to be a Stingray. I am excited to see what the future holds for me and will always look back on my time here with great memories.”

The Groton, Mass. native was honored with the ECHL’s John Brophy Award in April as the league’s Coach of the Year. Last season, Bergin led South Carolina to a 44-14-4 record, including a 25-5-4 on the road. The team’s 25 road wins are tied for the second-most in a single season in ECHL history. Bergin also served as a coach at the 2020 Warrior Hockey/ECHL All-Star Classic in Wichita, leading the Eastern Conference to the event’s title.

“I appreciate Steve’s hard work and dedication to our organization over the last 4 years and wish him nothing but the best as he embarks on a new challenge in his coaching career,” said Stingrays President Rob Concannon.

The Stingrays led all ECHL teams in 2019-20 in wins (44) and points (92). South Carolina also tied for the highest overall winning percentage in the league (0.742%). The Rays were the best defensive club in the ECHL last season, allowing a league-low 2.37 goals per game.

“Steve Bergin has been a tremendous asset to our organization over the last four years, and although we are very disappointed that he won’t be leading the Stingrays from behind the bench during the upcoming 2020-21 season, we understand and appreciate that he has decided to take on a different type of challenge that he believes is best for him and his family,” said Stingrays Principal Owner Todd Halloran. “I certainly wish him the best of luck.”

As an assistant coach, Bergin also took part in three additional playoff appearances as well as a run to the Kelly Cup Finals in 2017. He helped SC to a 40-win season in his first year with the organization in 2016-17, then helped guide the Rays to their highest regular season wins and points total in team history in 2017-18 with a mark of 48-16-7-1 and 104 points.

Bergin also helped oversee the best defensive team in the history of the ECHL in 2017-18 which broke records for least goals allowed (153), lowest team goals-against average (2.13) and fewest power play goals allowed (27).

A search for the team’s next head coach is already underway for the 2020-21 season.