Despite losing to Jacksonville in the first round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs, the Swamp Rabbits put up quite a show during the regular and postseason. They posted a record of 40-23-8-1 as they finished third in the South Divison. Last season they went 33-29-6-4 as they were the last team to qualify for the Kelly Cup Playoffs in the South. It goes without saying that the South Division in the ECHL is the most competitive and hardest division for teams to make it to the playoffs—your team either has to be the best of the best or win a lot just to qualify. The Atlanta Gladiators are the best example of a high-level competitive team to miss the Kelly Cup Playoffs this season. Regardless, the Rabbits were finished in 3rd place in the South at the end of the regular 22-23 season, with much better stats than last season. This team was sure hungry to win and be on the cusp of hoisting the Kelly Cup. However, that didn’t happen.
Why Did Greenville Lose Again In The First Round?
The major problem that occurred for this Greenville team during the playoffs was the lack of discipline: a lot of times, they were magnets to the box for stupid and avoidable penalties; the power play was not as effective as it was during the regular season; and their passion was not on top where it needed to be. Despite losing during the first round, it was definitely a hard-fought battle from both teams to win, but it was clear that Jacksonville had it together to advance. So much missed potential for the Rabbits to finish their postseason series in six games —which is exactly how it ended last year against the Everblades.
Rabbits’ Players That Stood Out
The players and coaches for this team were tremendously successful during the regular season, with some of the players putting up quite a show for goals, saves, assists, and/or physicality; without a doubt, this team could’ve made it past round 1 if they played like they did during the regular season. David Hrenak led the Swamp Rabbits in between the pipes during the regular season going 22-13-4-1 with a 2.82 GAA, .906 SV%, and one shutout.
The goaltending was great in the Kelly Cup Playoffs, as Ryan Bednard had the mantle as star goalie. He made a total of 118 saves during his six games, with a 0.887 SV%. Although he had backup goalie Luke Richardson step in two times at home, he was certainly on point with making key saves.
Speaking of Richardson, the college rookie had a pretty impressive postseason when he had to step up during the two home games when Bednard had been called to the bench by Andrew Lord; he made just 22 saves with a 0.909 SV%.
Now the players that really stood out were Forward and alternate captain Ben Freeman. He played a significant role in not just scoring but also leadership on the ice. In the Kelly Cup Playoffs he put up four goals and two assists in six games including a two-goal performance on April 29th.
Another player that stood out was Alex Ierullo. We’ve previously mentioned Ierullo’s significant and impactful season to this team: he was the leading goal and assists maker during the regular season, putting up 27 goals and 60 assists for 87 points in 67 games. In the Kelly Cup Playoffs, he had a goal and five assists, once again leading the team in points.
The last player we must mention is d-man Tyler Inamoto, who was responsible for making key saves to help tendy Bednard. During and before the playoffs, he was best known for blocking shots like a sponge, and was always being called up to the Ontario Reign of AHL.
To Close Off
Even though the outcome was unfortunate and disappointing for Greenville in the postseason, the future looks very bright, and perhaps the 23-24 season will be the year Greenville gets the Kelly Cup. This season was one to remember for the fans and organization; so many great memories of saves, goals, fights, physical plays, and more. They definitely improved as a team, but that’s owed to Head Coach Andrew Lord and the players. Until next season shall we see how far this Greenville team goes .