The South Carolina Stingrays, proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Washington Capitals and AHL’s Hershey Bears, have agreed to terms with defenseman Zach Malatesta for the 2020-21 season.
Malatesta, 24, is set to begin the fourth season of his professional career after playing with the ECHL’s Atlanta Gladiators for three years from 2017-20. As one of Atlanta’s alternate captains last year, the blueliner scored 34 points with 14 goals and 20 assists in 60 games.
“We’re really excited to have the opportunity to bring Zach on board with us for the upcoming season”, said Stingrays head coach Ryan Blair. “He caught my eye last season for many reasons. Zach competes hard every shift and will be a great teammate. We’re happy to have him bolster our defensive group on the back end.”
In 168 total games with Atlanta, Malatesta has posted 67 points (20 goals, 47 assists). During the 2018-19 campaign, Malatesta completed the rare feat of appearing in all 72 of Atlanta’s regular season games.
“While I was playing in Atlanta I had the chance to go up against the Stingrays a number of times and I always respected the team they had,” Malatesta said. “I’m definitely excited to be on the other side of things now with the amount of success South Carolina has had over the years. I think we’re going to bring back a lot of the same players from last year so I’m definitely excited to get things underway soon.”
Originally hailing from Boston, Mass., Malatesta has had a long friendship with Stingrays forward Cam Askew. The two knew each other while growing up and then became teammates together in junior hockey with the Moncton Wildcats in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).
With Moncton, the two teamed up for playoff runs during both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. Malatesta also suited up for the QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan during 2016-17 before turning pro with the Gladiators the following year.
Overall, the defender appeared in 191 regular season QMJHL contests during his junior career and scored 92 points on 25 goals and 67 assists. Malatesta also totaled 18 points (5 goals, 13 assists) in 43 QMJHL playoff games.
While he described his offseason as hectic, Malatesta said he’s ready to get the new season underway next month.
“I heard from Coach Blair after we found out that the Glads weren’t having a season next year due to COVID-19,” Malatesta said. “I’ve been friends with Cam Askew forever and I love the Charleston area so I’m definitely excited to come play there. I like to bring that gritty style of game and I think it will match up well with South Carolina’s style of play.”
The Stingrays will open the 2020-21 season on December 11 against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits at the North Charleston Coliseum at 7:05 p.m.
Season tickets are on sale now! For more information or to purchase, contact the Stingrays by phone at 843-744-2248 or submit this form.