ECHL: Swamp Rabbits Haunt the Ghost Pirates into a 5-3 Win at Home

Greenville, SC—The Swamp Rabbits returned for game two of the 23-24 season on their home turf, as they went head-on against their division rivals, the Savannah Ghost Pirates. During their home opener against Norfolk, the Rabbits’ gave us a sneak peak of what their new roster is capable of producing, as they won that game 3-2. The following Friday, they returned home to battle on against their division foes, the Ghost Pirates. Similar to the Rabbits roster, the Ghost Pirates also added new and returning faces. For their second game, the Rabbits received a new D-man to add to their roster: Wyatte Wylie. Wylie was sent down to Greenville from the Ontario Reign of AHL.

1st period

The first period started out slow for the Rabbits, as their passing wasn’t as crisp, and their pressure seemed toned down. At 3:35, the Rabbits were on their first power play. However, nothing came of it, only one shot on goal out of the entire two minutes of the man advantage. Savannah clearly had the edge over the Rabbits, and it would be rewarded moments later, as they would go on to score at the 6:17 mark on a goal by Simon Pinard, then Vincent Marleau would double the lead less than two minutes later. Well, perhaps the sluggishness from Greenville was just a false sign, as they enhanced the offensive zone pressure in Savannah’s zone during the final 10 minutes of the first period. The mirage of not playing at peak performance would be over for the Rabbits. At 10:31, Brannon McManus would intercept the puck and pass it to Josh McKechney. McKechney wasted no time in firing the puck at Papirny’s net to score. Despite the goal by Greenville, the Ghost Pirates still held the lead by a goal. Until later, at 3:13, the Ghost Pirates mishandled the puck from the boards near the net, with Kemp intercepting the puck near center ice uncontested and scoring a beauty of a goal.

The score was now tied at two, but not for long… After the center ice faceoff, the Rabbits controlled the puck, rushed into the offensive zone, and put pressure on Ghost Pirates defense. At 14:47, Tanner Eberle, from the right-wing end, chipped the puck to Joe Leahy for him to shoot a wrister and score his first goal as a Rabbit. Then minutes later, at 15:30, Ben Freeman would advance into the Ghost Pirates zone, shoot a wrister at the right-wing end, and score to make it 4-2. A spark of scoring for Greenville? Perhaps, but this dynamic paralleled itself like the previous game against the Norfolk Admirals. The 1st period would close off with a two-goal lead for the Rabbits; however, let’s not forget to mention the fight that broke out between Ethan Cap and Ghost Pirates’ newly named captain, Matthew Boudens.

2nd period

The first five minutes of the 2nd felt slow for both teams; just constant turnovers for both teams—back and forth. However, at around 7:00, Brett Kemp would enter into the offensive zone to pass the puck to Bobby Russell, who would then feed a pass to Carter Souch, as Souch would shoot a five-hole goal and make it 5-2 GVL. After the goal by Souch, both Greenville and Savannah would exchange another back-and-forth round of shooting and offensive zone pressure. But nothing would come of it for both teams for a while. Even at 12:55, when the Rabbits went on a PP, they still couldn’t convert to score their 6th of the game. And so the 2nd would close 5-2 GVL with 20 minutes of action left.

3rd period

The 3rd period started out with intense pressure from the Rabbits, as they would get another PP opportunity at 3:14. But… nothing came from it, not even a shot on goal from both PP units. After the PP concluded, Savannah stepped up their offensive zone pressure to the next level; they clearly wanted to score and potentially tie. However, they only managed to score once to make it 5-3. They even had a power play shortly after scoring that goal to make it 5-3, but didn’t manage to advance that score throughout the remainder of the final period. The Rabbits couldn’t find the back of the net again, despite getting one last powerplay at 15:09. At 18:00, the coaching staff would call for Micheal Bullion to make it an empty net for Savannah to give them that 6 on 5 advantage; however, they couldn’t score. Even with the empty net, the Rabbits seemed to struggle to shoot in and make it 6-3; it seemed like they couldn’t even shoot into the net at all, almost struggling to do so. And so, the 3rd period would conclude 5-3 GVL, and the Rabbits would make it 2-0 in wins for this season.

There’s more Swamp Rabbits hockey at Bon Secours Wellness Arena coming next weekend, as they take on the Ghost Pirates again on Friday, November 3, at 7 p.m., and then against the Jacksonville Icemen the following Saturday, November 4, at 7 p.m. But before then, the Rabbits will hit the road for their first road games of the season, first being this Sunday, October 29, at Savannah at 3 p.m. and then against the Atlanta Gladiators on Wednesday, November 1 at 7 p.m.

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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