After a record smashing season in the ECHL, goaltender Jeff Jaikatis has signed to play professional hockey in Norway. Jakaitis led the South Carolina Stingrays to a historic 23 game winning streak and he also broke the ECHL record for the longest ever shutout streak.
“It was a really tough decision to leave South Carolina. I think I grew up a lot since I joined the team,” Jakaitis said to the Post and Courier in South Carolina. “I’ve come to love Charleston, and when the season is done in Norway, I’ll come back because Charleston is home for me now. I’ve had so many great memories from the last few seasons here. It was a tough choice for me, but I think going over to Europe and playing in Norway is the right choice for me at this point in my career.”
The 32 year old netminder signed with the Lorenskog Ice Hockey Club in Norway. He had previously played hockey in Europe, playing in Italy for the 2009-2010 season. Last season in the ECHL he had a stretch where he went 15-0-0 with a goals against average of 1.67. During that stretch he had four straight shutouts, eclipsing 321 minutes to take the ECHL shutout streak and coming close to the all time professional hockey shutout streak.
“Jeff had every intention of returning to the Stingrays and playing in this upcoming season,” said Stingrays head coach Spencer Carbery in the same Post article. “I know that Jeff loves the city, the fans and the organization, but at this point in his career, he needs to think about his family. He has a son, and there was an opportunity to make some pretty good money over in Europe, so he took it.
“We can’t thank Jeff enough for all he’s done for the team, the organization and the community.”
In his three seasons with the Stingrays, Jakaitis made an impact. He went 58-25-9 with a 2.11 goals against average. He won the ECHL goalie of the year award twice with the Stingrays and won it three times in all during his ECHL career.
“This past season was so special in a lot of ways,” Jakaitis said. “It’s probably the most fun I’ve had playing hockey since I was a kid. It was a great locker room with a great bunch of guys. We had a great run into the playoffs, it just didn’t end the way we’d hoped.”