The South Carolina Stingrays are coming off their best weekend of hockey this season.
Last weekend, the Stingrays traveled down to Estero, Fla., and with just 13 skaters took two games from the Florida Everblades, the ECHL's top team.
Head coach Jared Bednar hopes his team won't be resting on its laurels when the Stingrays take on Elmira tonight and Saturday at the North Charleston Coliseum.
"We went down to Florida and played the kind of hockey that I've been looking for us to play all season," Bednar said. "Without a doubt it was the best back-to-back games we've put together so far this season. That's great. Now, we've got to put last weekend behind us, remember why we won those games, and focus on Elmira.
"One of our problems this season has been our consistency. I guess you could say we've been consistently inconsistent. We'll have a good game one night and turn around and play poorly the next time out. To be a good hockey team we've got to be more consistent with our effort game-in and game-out."
Due to injuries and call-ups to the American Hockey League, the Stingrays were without a half-dozen key performers. The Stingrays will welcome back three players into the lineup — forwards Maxime Lacroix and Jeff Corey and defenseman Viktor Dovgan — for tonight's matchup with the Jackals.
"We're not all of a sudden going to start winning because we've got guys back in the lineup," Bednar said. "That's what I've been stressing all week. Just because we've got more bodies on the bench it doesn't mean it's just going to happen for us. We've got to make it happen. We can't have a letdown because we've got a full bench. We've got to get the same effort we got last weekend against Florida."
One thing Bednar won't have to worry about is getting a new goalie. Michal Neuvirth, who was recalled to the NHL's Washington Capitals last weekend, has returned and is scheduled to start tonight against the Jackals. With Bobby Goepfert still up in the AHL with Hershey, Bednar was forced to use Ian Vigier, who has spent most of the season with the Columbus Cottonmouths of the Southern Professional Hockey League, last Saturday against Florida.
"Michal is having a great season for us," Bednar said. "He's been pretty steady all season."
Paul McIlveen will be making his return to the North Charleston Coliseum this weekend. McIlveen was traded to Elmira in a four-team deal last month for Corey. In 12 games with the Jackals, McIlveen has 10 points on five goals and five assists.
"I'm sure Paul will come in with a little chip on his shoulder," Bednar said. "Paul's a very good player and we hated to give him up, but we feel like we got a very good player in return in Jeff Corey. I'm sure Paul will want to show everyone what we've been missing."