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Stingrays Add Forward Mitch Vandergunst
4th-Year Pro Brings Physical Presence to Lineup for 2019-20

The South Carolina Stingrays, proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Washington Capitals and AHL’s Hershey Bears, have agreed to terms with forward Mitch Vandergunst for the 2019-20 season. Vandergunst begins his fourth professional campaign after most recently suiting up in 47 games for the ECHL’s Florida Everblades during the 2018-19 season.

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound native of Exeter, Ontario scored 11 points on four goals and seven assists and also appeared in two playoff games with the Everblades during the team’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals last year.

“Mitch plays a very hard-nosed, old school type of hockey,” said Stingrays Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations, Steve Bergin. “He fits in the fabric of what Stingrays hockey has been about for a while, players that compete really hard and are hard to play against who aren’t afraid to stick up for their teammates. Every time we played against him you always knew where he was and what he was doing. He seemed to always have an impact on the game, so to have him on our side, I think it’s huge.”

Vandergunst, 24, played in 15 ECHL games with the Norfolk Admirals during his second pro year in 2017-18. He has also seen 26 games of action in the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL), splitting his time between the Knoxville Ice Bears, Pensacola Ice Flyers and Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs while scoring seven points on two goals and five assists.

“I chose South Carolina because when I played there against the Stingrays I had a feel for the city and the good vibes around the area,” Vandergunst said. “The rink and the fans were always pretty good when I was there and it was a pretty easy decision for me.”

The forward is no stranger to the South Division, but he admitted that he’ll have some extra motivation during games against his former team.

“I don’t have a bad thing to say about Florida,” Vandergunst said. “I just talked to the coach there and it didn’t seem like there was much opportunity for me. It made me change my mind and decide that I wanted to go elsewhere. I’ll be seeing Florida a lot, but I think that’s good for me. I’ll be able to get up and get excited for those games even more than an average game.”

Bergin said that because both South Carolina and Florida have had a lot of success in their history, it’s not a surprise to see players going from one rival to another.

“I think he’s excited for it,” Bergin said. “It’s fun. Players have switched sides back and forth but you’re going to get that when you get teams like Florida and South Carolina because there’s a certain standard for those two organizations. You know you’re going to get treated well and you know you’re going to be competing for a championship so it just kind of makes sense that if a guy is going to leave one organization, the other one seems to be a similar fit.”

Before turning pro, Vandergunst played three seasons of junior hockey in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL) with the Stratford Cullitons, serving as an alternate captain in his final year (2014-15).

“I’m excited for the opportunity with a new team and I can’t wait to get down there and get things going,” said Vandergunst.

The 27th season of Stingrays hockey begins in Orlando against the Solar Bears on October 12. The Stingrays will open their home schedule in North Charleston vs. Orlando the following week on Saturday, October 19.

Season tickets are on sale now! For more information or to purchase, contact the Stingrays by phone at 843-744-2248.

For all the latest news and updates, follow the Stingrays on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 
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