Greenville,SC – The Greenville Swamp Rabbits hosted The Orlando Solar Bears for the second night in a row on Saturday Night as Luke Richardson made his Swamp Rabbit debut starting in goal. Josh McKechney, Brett Kemp, Ben Freeman, and Ethan Cap all scored goals for The Swamp Rabbits. Brayden Guy and Jimmy Mazza scored for The Solar Bears.
After The Greenville Swamp Rabbits picked up the win Friday night and clinched a spot in the Kelly Cup Playoffs, the Swamp Rabbits were now playing for playoff positioning. The Swamp Rabbits came into the night holding the third seed in the south division, one point ahead of The Florida Everblades.
Luke Richardson would start in goal for The Swamp Rabbits after being signed a few days prior. Before being signed to The Swamp Rabbits, Richardson played three games for the Belleville Senators after spending his last year at Queen’s University, he went 11-11-1 in 23 games with the Golden Gaels this season along with three shutouts.
Early in the first period, Richardson would be put to the test as The Swamp Rabbits would have to kill a power play one minute into the game. However, the penalty-killing unit made things easy on Richardson, only allowing one shot on goal.
Not long after killing the powerplay, The Solar Bears would strike first on a goal scored by Brayden Guy (14G 13A 27P), assisted by Jimmy Mazza and Chris Harpur.
At the 11:44 mark in the first period, The Swamp Rabbits would have an opportunity to capitalize and tie the game going on the powerplay. Two minutes would come and go with zero shots on goal.
The Solar Bears and Swamp Rabbits would trade the puck back and forth with minimal action. Until the final minute of the first period, Chris Harpur of The Solar Bears would be sent to the box, giving The Swamp Rabbits another opportunity to have a man advantage. The first period would come to a close, with the score remaining 0-1 in favor of The Solar Bears.
The second period would start with Greenville still on the powerplay. The Swamp Rabbits wouldn’t score having an advantage, but it wouldn’t take long for The Swamp Rabbits to pick up where they left off after last night’s game scoring, where they scored seven goals.
At the 2:19 mark, the first of four goals scored in the period would come from Josh McKechney (16G 21A 37P), assisted by Colton Young.
The Swamp Rabbits wouldn’t let off as Brett Kemp (22G 20A 42P) would score his fourth goal four minutes later in two games. Joe Leahy and Brannon McManus would be credited with the assist.
Keeping with the theme of four in the second period, Ben Freeman (11G 18A 29P) four minutes later would add to the scoring total making the score 3-1. Brannon McManus would be credited with his second assist of the game.
Finally, with 90 seconds to play in the period, Ethan Cap (2G 18A 20P) would add the period’s final goal. Giving The Swamp Rabbits a 4-1 lead going into the second intermission. Dallas Gerads and Ben Freeman would pick up the assist.
The second period was dominated by The Swamp Rabbits, consistently putting pressure on Jack Lafontaine. Doubling their shots on goal total from the first period. Meanwhile, The Solar Bears shot total decreased by half of what they put up in the first period.
Even after a solid showing by The Swamp Rabbits in the second period, The Solar Bears wouldn’t go down without a fight. Just under three minutes played in the third period, Jimmy Mazza (4G 12A 16P) scored an unassisted goal, cutting The Swamp Rabbit’s lead in half to 4-2.
8:38 in the third period, the emotions of playing a team on back-to-back nights with one team beating up on the other finally took its toll. Five total players would be called for double minors, all called for roughing. However, sitting in the arena, multiple players were fighting with each other and getting the crowd back into the game after seeing their team give up a goal. Ross Olsson, Tyler Bird, and Jay Powell would pick up penalties for The Solar Bears. Dallas Gerads and Miles Gendron were called for The Swamp Rabbits.
Brett Kemp decided he wasn’t done scoring goals against The Solar Bears with just under three minutes left in the game. Kemp would add a second goal to his total on the night, making five goals in two games, and Joe Leahy would get his second assist.
Making the final score 5-2 in favor of The Swamp Rabbits. Even though the offense came out and played well, credit has to be given to Luke Richardson, saving 26 out of 28 chances in his debut game for The Swamp Rabbits. Appearing to give The Swamp Rabbits a viable backup to David Hrenak as the playoffs get closer and closer.
The win moves The Swamp Rabbits to 38-23-8 with a two-point lead over the Florida Everblades, keeping hold of the third seed in the south division. While only being one point down for the second seed behind The Jacksonville Icemen.
Orlando Solar Bears: Host The Jacksonville Icemen on Friday at 7 pm EST.
Greenville Swamp Rabbits: Host The Savannah Ghost Pirates on Thursday at 7:05 pm EST.