The South Carolina Stingrays, proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Washington Capitals and AHL’s Hershey Bears, have agreed to terms with forward Darien Craighead for the 2020-21 season.
Craighead, 23, will begin his pro career in South Carolina after completing a stellar four-year run at Northern Michigan University that saw him score 109 points in 153 games. As a senior during the 2019-20 season, Craighead collected 31 points on 15 goals and 16 assists and was named to the All-WCHA Third Team.
“Darien comes to the Stingrays after a great four years at Northern Michigan University,” said Head Coach Ryan Blair. “I’m excited to see how his game will translate into our lineup and I think he’ll be a contributor from day one. Darien plays with intensity, he’s powerful and he has a great shot so we can’t wait to welcome him to the Lowcountry.”
Craighead, a native of Surrey, British Columbia, is now the fourth alumnus of Northern Michigan to sign with the Stingrays for 2020-21, joining team captain Andrew Cherniwchan, forward Justin Florek and defender Jordan Klimek.
“I knew Klimek from school and I’ve skated in the summers with Cherny and Florek before,” Craighead said. “I heard really good things about the Stingrays team and the Charleston area and looking at how they did last year it seemed like the place I wanted to be so I’m happy we got it done.”
“I think it’s going to make the transition to pro a little bit easier just being around those guys. I got the chance to play with Klimek for two years and he’s an awesome guy. We’re actually both from the Vancouver area so he lives only a few minutes away from me.”
Craighead posted double-digit goal totals in each of his last three seasons with the Wildcats, including 17 tallies as a sophomore during a 33-point campaign in which he was also named to the WCHA’s All-Third Team. The right-shot forward also earned a spot on the WCHA’s All-Rookie Team as a freshman at the conclusion of the 2016-17 season after scoring 25 points (7g, 18a).
“I like to make plays out there and I try to create a scoring chance every shift I’m on the ice,” Craighead said. “I think I have a little bit of a knack for scoring late goals and that’s something I really like doing and take pride in.”
Craighead has previously participated in two NHL development camps during the summers of 2018 and 2019 with the New York Islanders and Vancouver Canucks.
Before college, the 6-foot-1, 170-pound attacker played 143 junior games in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) for the Chilliwack Chiefs, Cowichan Valley Capitals and Langley Rivermen. He combined to score a total of 138 points on 52 goals and 86 assists.