Milner Finds Comfort In Charleston's Restaurant SceneFeb 7, 2018
Parker Milner is perfectly comfortable in Charleston.
The South Carolina Stingrays goaltender is having another great campaign during his second season with the team, building up a record of 14-4-2. His goals-against average of 2.20 ranks third in the league and save percentage of 0.920 is seventh-best in the ECHL.
Milner’s numbers have built off last season’s play in which he won 26 games during the regular season before leading the Stingrays on a run to the Kelly Cup Finals by playing in all 22 playoff contests with a GAA of 2.30 and a save percentage at 0.919.
A quick look at Milner’s new custom mask for this season reveals the Stingrays’ traditional color scheme of red and blue, along with the team’s primary logo as well as the logo of their NHL affiliate, the Washington Capitals. Towards the bottom of the front, is his nickname, “Mils”. But the back is filled with Charleston themed elements, complete with the iconic Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and signs from downtown restaurants Husk and FIG.
It’s common for goaltenders to depict imagery from their team’s city on a mask. But not many have a connection with its restaurants quite like Milner. They showcase what he loves most about The Holy City.
“I think those are two places that speak to Charleston,” Miner said. “Those are kind of the quintessential fine dining restaurants in my opinion. There are tons of other good places that I’m really into and those aren’t even necessarily my favorite, but they’re amazing and they kind of represent the city and the food scene that lies within it.”
When at home in the Lowcountry or on the road in any of the ECHL’s 26 other cities, Milner is the team’s go-to for food recommendations. Last season he had all year to get familiar with some of Charleston’s staples, but now that he’s back for a second go-around with the Rays, Milner is becoming even more knowledgeable and has continued to try newer things that are less well known.
“I knew about the big ones, Husk, FIG, McCrady’s and stuff like that,” Milner said. “But I also knew that Charleston was a hotbed for a lot of big-time chefs and a place where they’re doing some really cool types of cuisine so I was excited to try out the big ones but also find other smaller places.
He’s always excited to go somewhere good to eat when the team has some down time and is eager to bring along whichever of his teammates want to join.
“It depends on who I can drag,” said Milner. “Last season I would bring my roommates Dylan Margonari and Steven McParland out quite a bit. I could usually get Rob Flick to come for a good meal but guys are usually into it, it doesn’t take much convincing. This year I’ve gone a ton of places with Travis Walsh. I just try to find the places and see who will join me.”
Margonari, who was a rookie last season, has remained with the team this year and has continued to heed the call when Milner reaches out.
“I wouldn’t say it takes much selling on his part because knowing Mils, he’s always got a place up his sleeve,” Margonari said. “On an off-day, it’s kind of like ‘Hey Mils, where are we going to eat? What are we doing today?’ He always has them mapped out. He has a list of them, a food bible basically of 1001 places to eat before you die. I think there’s at least like 10-15 of them in Charleston so he’s just kind of going down the list, knocking them all down.”
Now it’s not just his teammates who are taking his recommendations. Since his return to Charleston in the fall, Milner has become a freelance contributor to Eater Charleston, writing about his explorations.
“I did some writing just for fun in my free time when I was in Hershey,” Milner said. “I saw Eater had an opening for a freelance writer and I sent them some stuff I had been working on. They got back to me a couple weeks later and once I got down to South Carolina I was able to start writing. It’s not really reviews, it’s reporting news on food whether it’s a map of different places to go or ‘check out this new restaurant’, it’s been a fun canvas to explore my food with.”
It has been the perfect way for him to spread the word about some of his favorite spots.
“I think since it’s freelance they don’t expect me to be pumping out articles. It has been fun for me as something I can do on the bus or in the hotel. When I’m on the road I can get more writing done because I’ve had the ideas already and then I can put pen to paper so it works out very well with our schedule.”
Some of Milner’s previous stories include “Tu”, the second restaurant from the makers of “Xiao Bao Biscuit”, which is one of his favorites housed in a converted gas station, as well as Shem Creek’s “Nico” and Mount Pleasant’s Grace & Grit.
With the goaltender scheduled to stay late and sign autographs after the team’s upcoming home game against Brampton on February 24, Stingrays fans might be wise to ask for a restaurant recommendation to go along with their signature.