Over this past weekend the South Carolina Stingrays, the ECHL team affiliated with both the Boston Bruins and the Washington Capitals achieved their 21st consecutive win. This winning streak is second only to the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals who had an astounding 28-win streak during the 2011-12 season.
The Stingrays owe much of their impressive streak to a hot goalie—Jeff Jakaitis, who achieved a league record of four consecutive shutouts. His current shutout streak reached 321 minutes, 46 seconds and is second all-time to Brian Boucher’s 332 minutes, 1 second streak set while Boucher backstopped the then Phoenix Coyotes during the 2003-4 NHL season.
A product of the USHL and collegiate route to the pros, Jakaitis played for the Lake Superior State Lakers in the now defunct Central Collegiate Hockey Association, which dissolved in 2013. It included such impressive collegiate programs as those of Ferris State University, Miami University, and the University of Notre Dame, all of whom along with Lake Superior have joined other divisions. Jakaitis has spent time on a number of teams, including a year in Italy, but right now he seems to have found his game with the Stingrays. Though his shutout minutes ended on Saturday, he sits tied for first in the ECHL with Daniel Berthiaume of the Roanoke Express (1994-95) with his 13-game winning streak by a goaltender in one season.
The tandem of Jakaitis and Adam Morrison hold the best goals-against averages in the ECHL with Morrison at the top of the list with a 1.88 GAA and Jakaitis right behind him with a 1.96 GAA. Morrison sits second among the league’s netminders with a .928 save percentage and is tied for second with four shutouts. Jakaitis is fourth in save percentage at .925 but leads the ECHL with six shutouts.
Saturday night’s game unfortunately saw the end of his shutout time, and with his team down by a goal, head coach Spencer Carbery elected to pull Jakaitis on the power play and go with a six-on-four opportunity that paid off when forward Caleb Herbert put the game-tying goal in with just 1:12 remaining in regulation. Despite a power play opportunity for the Cincinnati Cyclones in overtime, the game would go to the shootout and be decided in the fifth round when Herbert again stepped up and got the game-winner.
The team begins a seven-game road trip Wednesday night when they meet the Cyclones again for a rematch. Audio of the game will be available on StingraysHockey.com and video can be purchased on ECHL.TV.
Wednesday night’s game could also see the team clinch a berth in the Kelly Cup Playoffs if the Stingrays win and the Elmira Jackals lose or if South Carolina loses in overtime/shootout and Elmira loses in regulation.
This team has been on fire and there are many who will be watching Wednesday night to see if they can continue this stunning streak.