ECHL: Games Recap: Greenville Swamp Rabbits | ATL/SAV | 04/12-14/2024

Photo Credit: Jake Farmer/InsideTheRink

Greenville, SC — The Swamp Rabbits, Atlanta Gladiators, and Savannah Ghost Pirates returned to Greenville for one-game stays, respectively. Hitting off the final homestand of the regular season, the Swamp Rabbits would hold their ground to clinch the division title and decide their Kelly Cup Playoffs round one foe. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Gladiators and Savannah Ghost Pirates would battle out with nothing to lose, making both of them unpredictable for the reigning first place Swamp Rabbits. The Swamp Rabbits, before this homestand, were 42-23-4-1, while the Ghost Pirates were 29-33-7-1 and Gladiators 22-43-3-1.

Game One—Atlanta at Greenville—April 12

1st Period

Ethan Somoza opened up scoring after he brushed the puck in past an opening made by Gustavs Grigals at 7:21. Upon the scoring of the goal, Ryan Francis committed a cross-checking minor against a Gladiator, ushering in pandemonium. The goal would also go under an official video review by Hunter Mottinger. But after review, the goal would stand. Later on, Tanner Eberle would rocket one high from the center point to score on the right opening at 13:34. Shots on goal: 9 Atlanta, 11 Greenville

2nd Period

Atlanta would have a better period with improved puck management and O-zone plays, as later on at 6:04, Ryan Cranford would score from Joshua Boyers sauce.

But, they would score after Greenville struck twice in the first few minutes of play. Eberle would score first at 2:25 and then again for a hatty at 5:47. The ECHL veteran would record his first hat trick this season with the Rabbits as he was fired up for this game against the Glads. Fast forward to 16:27, Anthony Beauchamp would draw a penalty, putting his team on the fourth short-man hockey. However, his team would execute finely with its 81.5% kill as Josh McKechney would score a shorty on a two-on-two with some help from rookie forward, making his pro debut, Zach Tupker. Shots on goal: 13 Atlanta, 15 Greenville.

3rd Period

For the final stretch, both teams would engage in plenty of scoring and undisciplined plays. In the first 0:38 of play, Atlanta would draw a match penalty for targeting Brett Kemps head after he held and yanked down a Gladiator during play. As one would assume from the cheap shots, a scrum would unravel. As a result, Kemp would sit for his original holding infraction, while Griffin Luce would sit for 15 minutes from taking a match penalty for an illegal check to the head and ten minute misconduct. As the Kemp penalty was continuing, Robert Calisti fed it to Carson Gicewicz for him to wrist hard and score from the left-wing point. Now 5-2, Greenville played on. Anthony Beauchamp would score goal number six at 7:30 as he tipped a rocket by Flynn from the crease.

But Atlanta wasn’t flattered with the score, so Brendan Hoffmann would score number three at 12:25. With time still left, the Rabbits were not finished, as Beauchamp would score his second of the game from a saucer by rookie Logan Britt. With seven goals on the board, the crowd at Bon Secours Wellness Arena – The Well – of 5,610 fans were fired up. After 60, the game would end 7-3, capping on the final season meeting between the two south division foes. Shots on goal: 7 Atlanta, 9 Greenville. Final shots on goal: 29 Atlanta, 35 Greenville.

The next day, on Saturday, April 13, the Orlando Solar Bears would clinch a late but much anticipated playoff spot after they won 1-0 against the Reading Royals. In the final minute of the game, the Solar Bears got a five minute match power play and took it above themselves to pull Evan Fitzpatrick after he was speared by a Royals player, and ultimately came out on top with Alex Frye scoring the game winner and clinching the playoff berth.

Game Two — April 14 – Savannah at Greenville

After losing 4-0 against the Ghost Pirates at Savannah, the Swamp Rabbits had revenge on their minds, as the division title was on the line.

1st Period

For the first period, Savannah would see some good looks as they would outshoot the Rabbits 13-9. However, the Rabbits had revenge set on their minds as the last two meetings were losses. Luke Richardson for the Rabbits would be in between the pipes, along with Jordan Papirny for the Ghost Pirates. The Ghost Pirates would really control a lot of the momentum and o-zone plays, while their d-core managed to keep the Rabbits out of their respective zone. But, at 9:49, Carter Souch would open up scoring for the Rabbits, as he tucked the puck past Papirny’s pads. Tanner Eberle and Tyler Inamoto would assist the goal. Inamoto, who was recently sent down from the AHL Ontario Reign, would grab his first point since November 22 of this season. Later on at 11:19, Tupker scores the second goal on a two-on-one, making it his first career goal in the ECHL. Shots on goal: 13 Savannah, 9 Greenville.

2nd Period

The second stretch would look even better for the Rabbits, as Souch would score goal number three for his team and number two for himself in this game at 1:09. Eberle would once again record another primary assist. Afterwards, the two teams would have some good looks on net, but manage to somehow keep the score the same before 13:00. Cracking at 13:06, McManus would score from the center point after Beauchamps shot rebounded off of Papirny and managed to keep in Savannah’s zone. After letting in four goals, Jordan Papirny’s night was over as Micheal Bullion would take his place.

Now 4-0, the Rabbits would control the momentum as first place in the south looked near possible. But there was still more hockey to play with over 26 minutes to go. And with 17 seconds left, Nick Granowicz would shoot on Richardson with the puck being shaved past the goal line before he could make the save.

Originally, the call on the ice was a freeze save, but then went to a good goal with a video review after. After a short review by referee David Lily, the call on the ice stood: good goal. Shots on goal: 9 Savannah, 15 Greenville.

3rd Period

In the first minutes of play of the final frame, Logan Drevitch would draw a penalty shot at 2:06 as a Rabbit hooked him on the breakaway. However, standing tall throughout the entirety of the game, Luke Richardson would deny Drevitch of scoring.

Photo Credit: Jake Farmer/InsideTheRink

The long absence of not netminding for Richardson would fuel him to play his absolute best game. At 5:11, in the heat of the moment, Jake Flynn and Keltie Jeri-Leon would drop the mitts for a good old-fashioned hockey fight. The crowd at The Well were loving the fight as it would activate their energy and help their home team take the south division title.

Then at 7:52, Savannah would draw a penalty and put the Rabbits on the power play. However, the first minute would look rough for the Rabbits as improper positioning and missed shots would slam them. And then Savannah would make another undisciplined play before the first PP expired, ushering in an abbreviated 5-on-3. 1:20 into the power play, McKechney would sauce and connect to Eberle, and Eberle would then feed it to Souch to one-time it at the right-wing point and secure his second hat trick of the season.

Following the hat trick with some hats being thrown onto the ice, the announcement that the Swamp Rabbits clinched the South Division title was relayed to everyone as the Jacksonville Icemen fell short to Atlanta. But this game, however, wasn’t over. After the fifth goal, trailing by four, the Ghost Pirates were desperate and trying to make their final game of the season a good one, as the team would throw nine shots on Richardson. But none of it would go past Richardson.

And so the game would conclude 5–1 Swamp Rabbits.

The Swamp Rabbits will play the Orlando Solar Bears at Greenville on April 21 and 22 with the games slated in Orlando to be announced at a later date. On paper, the matchup between the two teams sounds bitter and almost terrifying for the Swamp Rabbits; however, the playoffs are different from the regular season, with much more on the line. The Rabbits have a solid roster of d-men, forwards, and goalies, but it’s unclear who makes the final cut. The official rosters of both teams will be announced by Tuesday, April 15.

Jake Farmer

I'm a photographer and writer covering the ECHL Greenville Swamp Rabbits based in Greenville, South Carolina. Twitter and Instagram: JakeCF.Hockey

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