ECHL: Greenville Swamp Rabbits Homestand Recap | Savannah/SC | 03/28-29/2024

Photo Credit: Jake Farmer of Inside The Rink

Greenville, SC — The Swamp Rabbits returned back home for a two-game homestand against two of their division rivals, the Savannah Ghost Pirates and South Carolina Stingrays. Before the matchups, the Rabbits were 41-18-3-1 for 64 games; the Savannah Ghost Pirates 25-32-5 -1; and the Stingrays were 36-24-4-1. In a heated competition for playoff spots, the Rabbits and Stingrays were desperate to win and gain points to clinch their playoff berths.

Game One — Savannah at Greenville — March 28

1st Period

The first period would start out great for the Rabbits, as they would put up peak offensive pressure on Savannah’s Jordan Papirny by posting eleven shots on goal before 9:43. At that mark, the Ghost Pirates would go on a rush and station themselves in Greenvilles zone. Carter Long would hard wrist the puck at the point from sauce by Joe Fleming. But the Rabbits wouldn’t let the one goal trail continue for long. At 12:30, Jake Flynn responds with the tie by scoring his first in a Rabbits’ uniform.

It is worth noting that a first goal deserves a great fashion in doing so, and Flynn did just that by scoring unassisted. Afterward, neither team would score and remain tied at one. Shots on goal: 10 Savannah, 16 Greenville.

2nd Period

Call this period a busy one for the Referees, as they would call seven penalties – four of which were on the Ghost Pirates.

In the first 20 seconds of play, on the PK, Savannah would break the tie on the Rabbits’ abbreviated power play. After not capitalizing on the PP and responding to the unanswered goal, the Rabbits would go on another PP at 2:07. However, that PP would be short-lived as Brett Kemp for the Rabbits would take a slashing infraction. The Rabbits would make some undisciplined plays that would result in short man disadvantages and takeaways from the opposing team. With the Rabbits’ 81% kill, we would see the number one team in the South division defend their zone with help from Ryan Bednard. Then, at 9:02, the Rabbits would draw a power play after both teams could neither score nor even put a shot on goal for a few minutes. Back on the PK, the Ghost Pirates would kill off the Rabbits’ PP with needed swipes away from their zone and shove the Swamp Rabbits from shooting on Henderson Silver Knights’ Jordan Papirny. Then, at 11:38, still, with nothing to report, the Ghost Pirates would draw another penalty. However, yet again, the d-core by Savannah would activate again with their 77% kill. The Ghost Pirates would dominate over the Rabbits by being a bigger body presence with their d-core, keeping the score at 2-1. But during the kill, the Rabbits’ Bobby Russell would draw a penalty and result in the play at a four-on-four at 12:45. On four-on-four and even on the Savannah short power play, neither team would activate with a goal or shots – just chipped away plays and zone play rotations. Minutes later, Savannah would put four shots on Bednard, while Greenville put up six shots on Papirny. Nearing the last-minute mark of the period, in Savannah’s zone, Tanner Eberle would shoot on Papirny at the left-wing end with Somoza, then poke it past the netminder near the crease. In a scuffle, Ben Freeman would tuck the puck past the pressured Papirny in a close-to-crease, loose puck situation for Savannah. Shots on goal: 8 Savannah, 10 Greenville.

3rd Period

Both teams maintained the tie throughout the period by making chippy plays out of their zones and lashed on a level of offense. Credit would go towards both teams’ defensive cores as they would maintain the tie but ultimately rush both of them into 3-on-3 overtime. Shots on goal: 8 Savannah, 9 Greenville.

Overtime

In overtime, the Ghost Pirates would see two chances at first, but Bednard would block it away and keep play going. Later on, Souch would poke away the puck in his zone and immediately rush down on a two-on-one. Souch had plenty of room to shoot, and so he did by firing a wrister past Papirny and calling it game.

Post-Game Interview with Carter Souch

I asked Souch for his thoughts on his game-winning overtime goal

His response: “I think we hung in there. There were some weird bounces all game. I think we just stuck together as a group. Obviously, it was a tie game for that last period, and I think we put the pressure on them, and then obviously overtime came, and we didn’t have the most puck possession to start there. And obviously, we got one chance, and we put it away. So it’s always great to get the extra point.”

You still remain high in the stats as top point maker with 53 points. What is it like to have that title even after months of having it, and is there any pressure with that title on this team with extremely gifted players?

“You know, quite frankly, points arent really the biggest thing for me. I think we have a really, really good team here and we got a lot of depth – like we have a lot of first and secondary scoring, and i think any given night the guys can put 2 or 3 in the net just like me. So, i think we’re clicking well: all of the forwards from offensively wise, all our D are playing well defensively; good offense starts in the d-zone. I think were working our way out from the d-zone all the way up, and we just gotta keep building this thing.”

A lot of things to change with the game tomorrow against SC, but what can we expect for game plan adjustments for tomorrow?

“They’re a great team and it’s always really good games when we play them. Obviously we’ll build off tonight, take the positives from this game, and I still think there’s some things that we can tighten up and work on. I think tomorrow morning we’ll get a good video session in, and obviously keep the energy going but regroup – South Carolina is a good, fast team and so we’re going to have to match that.”

Is there any tension building as the team is nearing a playoff berth?

“You know, not really, to be honest. I think we understand where we are as a group. I think we gotta keep stringing together – you know, solid 60 minutes of play every time we have a game. So i mean were not really worried if we clinch tomorrow or saturday, or whatever the case may be; i think were just taking it game by game and trying to keep building this thing.”

Game Two — Stingrays at Swamp Rabbits — March 29

1st Period

The first would be great for the Stingrays, as they would throw in 13 shots on Ingham and score from one them. At 11:00, the Stingrays’ top forward, Jack Adams, would open up scoring from sauce by Ryan Leibold.

The goal would go under scrutiny from not only the fans at Bon Secours Wellness Arena but also the Rabbits and head coach Andrew Lord, due to the fact that the goal was poked in whilst Ingham was trying to freeze it.

Referee Sam Heidemann would deny any attempt to video review it, and so the game would resume. Greenville would throw in 11 shots on Mitchell Gibson, but it was clear that the period belonged to the ruthless Stingrays.

2nd Period

The Stingrays would start out the second by taking three penalties in a span of five minutes. The first two would get killed off by the Stingrays’ PK units of 83% with support of Mitchell Gibson. For the third penalty, things would look different. On an o-zone pressure, Souch broke the tie at 6:04 from an apple by Brett Kemp.

Later on, 10 minutes after the Souch tie breaker, the Rabbits would then increase their lead to two from a left side, open door shot by Kemp.

But what seemed as a two goal lead, would only shrink right before the Rabbits could catch a breath, as Ethan Strang for the Rays would net an unassisted top shelf goal, eight seconds after the Kemp goal.

The goal would go under review to determine if the puck crossed the goal line; after review the goal stood.

Shots on goal: 5 SC, 14 Greenville.

3rd Period

Both teams would chip in some close chances in breaking the tie; however, the goalies of both respective clubs were on fire to retain the tied score. Greenville had control of the momentum around the 14 minute mark, but SC denied their plays. As a result, the game would go into sudden death overtime. Shots on goal: 6 SC, 13 Greenville.

Overtime

In a paralleled fashion, the Swamp Rabbits would head into overtime to decide the fate of the game. At first, the Rabbits would have some chances, but those chances would die off as they took a penalty at 3:23. Around 3:58, the Stingrays would pressure relentlessly on their four-on-three PP, completely smothering out the Rabbits’ ability to clear out. As a consequence, Austin Magera would tip it in and call it game.

An unfortunate loss for the Rabbits: Despite playing pretty decent hockey in the third, undisciplined and desperate plays would catch them in the short advantage. Fortunately, though, a rematch was in the air for both teams, as they would head to Charleston the following day for rematch hockey. As a result of the game, however, the Swamp Rabbits clinched a playoff berth for the fourth year in a row while remaining first in the south division and eastern conference.

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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