The South Carolina Stingrays, proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Washington Capitals and AHL’s Hershey Bears, have agreed to terms with forward Max Novak for the 2020-21 season.
Novak, 29, returns for his second year in South Carolina after finishing in a tie for the team lead in scoring during the 2019-20 season with 51 total points in 59 games on 15 goals and 36 assists.
The Oak Ridge, New Jersey native’s 36 helpers were tied for the most among Rays skaters. Novak, who is beginning his sixth professional season, also amassed a +18 rating and 11 power play points (4g, 7a) while helping SC to an ECHL-best 0.742 winning percentage.
“We are extremely excited to welcome Max back for another season”, said Stingrays Head Coach Ryan Blair. “He is an easy-going guy who shows up and competes every day regardless of his place on the depth chart. We’re looking forward to having his speed, skill and experience as part of our forward group again this season.”
Last year was Novak’s fourth pro season in North America. He previously spent the 2018-19 campaign overseas in Sweden with Tingsryds AIF where he scored 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists) in 52 games.
“The decision to come back was pretty easy because I love the area,” Novak said. “The team was great last year, and we have a good group of guys returning so I think we’ll have another good product on the ice. It was a tight-knit group so hopefully that carries over into next season.”
Novak added that he’s excited to continue working with Blair, who helped him find success during his first season with the Rays.
“He’s a hard-worker, he’s passionate, and you can tell he really cares about the game when he’s showing you video and breaking down clips,” Novak said. “He pays attention to the little details which is something you pick up on after playing hockey professionally for a few years and it’s good to have someone at the helm that’s very detail-oriented.”
Novak’s pro career has also included 111 AHL games with the Albany Devils and Toronto Marlies, as well as 125 ECHL contests with the Stingrays and Orlando Solar Bears. The 6-foot, 190-pound attacker finished second on the Solar Bears in scoring during the 2017-18 year, posting 57 points in 66 games on 21 goals and 36 assists.
Before turning pro, Novak played at Union College in the ECAC (Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference) for four years from 2011-15. The Dutchmen captured their first-ever NCAA National Championship during Novak’s junior season in the spring of 2014 and he was also part of back-to-back ECAC titles during the 2012 & 2013 seasons. Overall, Novak played in 141 NCAA contests and scored 96 points with 43 goals and 53 assists.