Greenville, SC – The Greenville Swamp Rabbits took on the Jacksonville Icemen in game three of their first-round matchup. The series began with both teams winning a game a piece in Jacksonville. Jacksonville won game two in double overtime. This game would show how important it was to both teams, with Greenville hosting the next two games before returning to Jacksonville if necessary. Once again, we would see Ryan Bednard and Charles Williams in goal. Tanner Eberle (2), Max Martin, and Nikita Pavlychev added goals for the Swamp Rabbits. Derek Lodermeier (3), Matt Iacopelli, Craig Martin, Cristiano DiGiacinto, and Luke Lynch scored for the Icemen.
The first period didn’t start as fast as game two started. They were taking a full minute before the first shot was attempted. This compared to game two when Jacksonville was given a powerplay opportunity, and multiple shots had been taken at Swamp Rabbit goalie Ryan Bednard within the first minute. With that said, both teams came out fast and explosive. Within the first two minutes, there were multiple times when the referees had to work to get the two teams off each other. At the 3:33 mark, that intensity would hurt the Icemen when Derek Lodermeier was sent to the penalty box, giving the Swamp Rabbits their first opportunity on the powerplay. Charles Williams would save the first two shots, with one being an incredible save closing off the open net sliding to his left. However, 4:50 into the period, Tanner Eberle slid the puck past Williams’s stick, giving the Swamp Rabbits the early lead. Josh McKechney and Ethan Cap would be credited with the assist.
The Swamp Rabbits would have multiple opportunities post-powerplay to add to their lead, but Charles Williams had other ideas, making two excellent saves to keep the score 1-0. 11:25 Tanner Eberle would be sent to the box, giving Jacksonville their first chance with a man advantage. It wouldn’t take long for Derek Lodermeier to make up for the powerplay he gave to Greenville. When he scored on the first shot of the powerplay, Christopher Brown was credited with the assist. Things would get worse for the Swamp Rabbits four minutes later when Matt Iacopelli would go coast to coast, shooting just on the inside of the blue line, putting it past Bednard, and giving the Icemen a 2-1 lead at the end of the period.
The Icemen couldn’t have asked for a better to start to the second period. When just over a minute into the period, Christopher Brown would get an open shot and capitalize on the opportunity adding to the Icemen total. With the score now 3-1, Ethan Cap of Greenville would be called for the penalty. Jacksonville would once again take advantage of being on the powerplay, scoring with 30 seconds left on the man advantage and putting the Icemen now up 4-1. Coach Lord decided he had seen enough and pulled Ryan Bednard, replacing him with Luke Richardson, three minutes into the second period. Not long after, Dallas Gerads began flying around, starting to play enforcer and hitting anyone he could, which would lead to the Icemen making a mistake giving the Swamp Rabbits their second chance on the powerplay after scoring on the first opportunity. However, the kill unit of the Icemen was too strong this time, only allowing three shots. In a call that made the Swamp Rabbit faithful boo the loudest they had all night towards the referees. Nikita Pavlychev would head to the penalty box after Jacksonville had scored on their previous two tries. This time Greenville and Richardson would end the Icemen’s streak of scoring on the powerplay in this game. As soon as Pavlychev was released, he would be immediately sent back, this time being called for a slash. Jacksonville wouldn’t be denied this time, as Derek Lodermeier would score his second goal of the night. Putting the Icemen up 5-1 with just over a minute and a half left to play in the period.
The start of the third period lacked excitement and energy compared to the period prior. The Swamp Rabbits came out like they wanted the night to end, while the Icemen played keep away, maintaining their four-goal lead. Until the 6:36 mark, when Nikita Pavlychev would be called for unsportsmanlike conduct, his third penalty in a span of roughly ten minutes. Even with the man advantage, Jacksonville continued the keep-away game plan. Halfway through the third the Swamp Rabbits would find their second goal of the night when Max Martin would find the back of the net, cutting the Icemen’s lead to three. Five minutes later, Tanner Eberle would add his second goal of the night, coming off a rebound from a shot by Martin. With the lead now down to two and five minutes left to play, the Swamp Rabbits started to up the pressure on the Icemen’s defense and Williams. This was especially noted when coach Lord pulled Richardson with three minutes to play. The move paid off when Brett Kemp threw a shot at the goal, bouncing off Williams, and Nikita Pavlychev grabbed the rebound and shot it off the right shoulder of Williams, going into the back of the plan. Now only down one goal, the Swamp Rabbits continued to play with Richardson pulled, giving them the man advantage. Unfortunately for the Swamp Rabbits, Luke Lynch managed to get ahold of the puck and score on the empty net. Derek Lodermeier would add one more goal on the empty net with 30 seconds to play. The goal would give Lodermeier his third goal of the night. Making the final score 7-4, with the Icemen picking up their second win of the series.
The Swamp Rabbits and the Icemen will match up again on Friday night. With Jacksonville having a 2-1 series lead.