The South Carolina Stingrays, proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Washington Capitals and AHL’s Hershey Bears, announced the signing of forward Max Novak to an ECHL contract for the upcoming 2019-20 season Tuesday.
Novak, a native of Oak Ridge, N.J., is entering his fifth professional season and most recently played in Sweden for Tingsryds AIF during the 2018-19 campaign where he scored 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists) in 52 games.
Before his time in Sweden, Novak played three pro years in North America, suiting up for 111 AHL games with the Albany Devils and Toronto Marlies, as well as 66 ECHL contests with the Orlando Solar Bears.
“We’re expecting Max to come in and play a major role for us,” said Stingrays Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Steve Bergin. “I remember him in Orlando as a great player who was really fast and had a lot of offensive upside to him. He also has experience playing at the next level in the AHL and that’s huge. It’s great to have someone that’s been to the level above who can bring leadership to your locker room and be an example for our younger guys right away.”
Novak, 28, measures 6-feet, 190 pounds and 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. His assist total ranked first on the team, while his goal total was second-best. Eight of Novak’s tallies came on the power play and he also added two short-handed strikes while totaling 191 shots on goal.
“I’m definitely excited to be in South Carolina,” Novak said. “For as long as I can remember, they’ve always been a team that’s been in contention at the ECHL level. I’ve had friends and college teammates that have also played for the Stingrays and loved their time there so it seemed like a perfect fit.”
Before beginning his pro career, Novak played four years of collegiate hockey at Union College in the ECAC (Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference). 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 from 2011-15, Novak played in 141 NCAA contests and scored 96 points with 43 goals and 53 assists.
In addition to seeing him with the Solar Bears during 2017-18, Bergin had a little extra scouting help from one of his former coaches at the University of Connecticut, Joe Dumais, who was with Union during all four of Novak’s collegiate years.
“Joe had a lot of great things to say about him,” Bergin said. “I would say his skating is his top strength. He buzzed around when he was in Orlando and he just has an overall offensive presence to him. He’s good on the power play, good on the rush, and has a very creative mind when it comes to the offensive side of the puck with a high level of compete.
The winger turned pro towards the end of the 2014-15 year by signing with Albany and he remained with the Devils until the end of the 2016-17 campaign. In total, Novak scored 29 points on 10 goals and 19 assists in 110 games with the Devils during parts of three seasons.
Novak said that last years’ experience in Sweden was good for him, but there was also another factor that helped him decide to play in the Lowcountry this year.
“This year my girlfriend ended up getting a job down in Charleston and it just seemed like a good time to try my luck back in North American hockey again,” Novak said. “Every time we were down there they had a great crowd and a great fan base so it should be fun. It wasn’t the easiest place to play in as a visitor but it should be a good home base to play in.”
Novak will have a familiar opponent to go up against when the Stingrays begin the 2019-20 season on October 12 in Orlando against the Solar Bears. The team’s home opener will also be against Orlando in North Charleston 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.