The South Carolina Stingrays have their Seitz set on a second East Coast Hockey League championship.
Their vision was halfway complete thanks to perennial all-star defenseman Dave Seitz, who scored the game-winning goal in the first two games of the Kelly Cup Finals on the road against the Trenton Titans.
The 27-year-old Buffalo, N.Y., native, batted home a Zach Ham feed from behind the net at 2:07 of the first overtime in Game 1 Friday to lift the Stingrays to a 3-2 victory. He delivered again Sunday in Game 2, helping the Rays overcome a two-goal deficit with the go-ahead tally on a power-play at 13:43 of the third period in a 5-3 victory.
Seitz was leading the ECHL in playoff scoring with 24 points on 11 goals and 13 assists in 15 games entering Game 3 of the series May 22 at North Charleston Coliseum.
South Carolina, which finished with the best record in the Southern Conference, is the eighth team in the 13-year history of the ECHL to go up 2-0 in the finals, but only the second to win the first two on the road. Louisiana won back-to-back games at Peoria last year, but the Rivermen took the next four games to win the Kelly Cup.
The Stingrays took a 2-0 lead at home and defeated Louisiana, four games to one, to win the 1997 Kelly Cup.
After capturing the Brabham Cup as regular season champs, Trenton's playoff run has stalled. Entering Tuesday, Trenton was 1-4 in its past five games. The lone victory was a 4-3 home win against Peoria in Game 7 of the Northern Conference Finals.
The Titans aren't dead yet. They tied an ECHL record this season with 25 road wins and handed the Stingrays their worst loss of the season on March 24 - a 9-0 at North Charleston Coliseum.
GAMSBY REGIME UNDERWAY: Former Lynx general manager Paul Gamsby officially began his reign as GM of the Richmond Renegades on Monday, spending the day getting acquainted with his office staff and coach Mark Kaufman.
The 52-year-old Gamsby and former Lynx broadcaster Jerry Canaan - Richmond's new assistant GM and vice president of sales and marketing - have begun work on revamping the club's business strategy, a plan that covers corporate sales, season tickets, marketing and arena issues.
But Gamsby, who led the Lynx to the top of the ECHL in corporate sales ($1 million in sponsorships last season) has a major rebuilding project on his hands.
After advancing to the Kelly Cup finals in 1998-99, the Gades have been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs the past two seasons and lost around $500,000 under new ownership this past season.
As for Kaufman, who is entering the final year of a three-year contract, Gamsby has said he will retain him as coach for next season. But Gamsby also says he plans to take an active role in hockey operations, including player personnel decisions.
RUNNING OF THE BULLS: George Shinn, owner of the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and ECHL's Charlotte Checkers, signed a letter of intent May 14 to purchase the struggling Birmingham Bulls, and will move the team to Atlantic City, N.J.
The team will begin play next season at historic Boardwalk Hall, pending approval of the ECHL Board of Governors. A search for a GM and coach are underway, while the team's nickname will be determined by a contest and announced at a later date.
The Atlantic City team will inherit players from Birmingham, including 1998 league MVP Jamey Hicks. The Bulls completed their 11th ECHL season in 2000-01, their ninth in Birmingham, but poor attendance spelled their demise.
The dormant Hampton Roads Admirals initially were slated to move to Atlantic City, but the club's owners pulled out in February in the wake of lagging season ticket sales and corporate sponsorships.
SHARK SIGHTINGS: As expected, Tallahassee Tiger Sharks acting owner Michel Cadrin notified the Elmore-Tuttle Sports Group on May 15 that he wants out of his agreement to lease the team, voiding the final three years of the deal.
Elmore-Tuttle will regain control June 1 and is expected to sell the franchise to one of two Central League teams, either the Fayetteville (N.C.) Force or Macon Whoopee, whose owners plan to join the ECHL.
Macon is believed to be the frontrunner to land the Sharks, which would be great news for the Augusta Lynx. The Whoopee would instantly give Augusta a natural rival, which should help generate more fan interest.
Along with Tallahassee, Whoopee management has talked with several other ECHL franchises about the possibility of relocating to Macon. By relocating an existing club, the Whoopee would save the $1.5 million expansion fee to join the league.
Owners of the CHL's Columbus Cottonmouths also have expressed interest in joining the ECHL, which would make for another geographical rivalry for Augusta. But the franchise reportedly is leaning toward staying put in the CHL, which is merging with the Western Professional League beginning next season.
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