ECHL: Two-Game Recap | Toledo Walleye vs. Greenville Swamp Rabbits | 03/15-16/2024

Photo Credit: Jake Farmer/InsideTheRink

Greenville, SC — After returning home from winning two games on the road in Orlando and Savannah, the Swamp Rabbits would start a new series with the Toledo Walleye. The Walleye recently have been dominant on the power play with a 26% success. Toledo also came to Greenville after concluding a loss in South Carolina and a two-game stay at Kalamazoo with a win and a loss, along with a win in Cincinnati on March 8.

Game One – March 15, 2024

1st Period

The first period would start out swell for the Walleye, as Alexandre Doucet would open up scoring at 1:48. A shot by Riley Sawchuk on a two-on-two would get skimmed off the stick of Ingham, leaving the net empty for Doucet to tuck it in. Then, at 4:36, Greenville would take a penalty. They would successfully kill it off with plenty of clears by the PK units and allow three shots on net. The Walleye would only push on after the PP to expand their lead, as they posted three shots on Ingham before drawing another power play at 12:06. The second PP, however, wouldn’t go as far as the Walleye wanted, as the Rabbits’ 81% PK would once again put in the work to keep the score at 0-1 by only allowing a single shot on Ingham’s goal. After the PK, the Rabbits would then draw their first PP of the game at 14:58. But they would only post just a single shot on it. What seemed to be a one-goal lead would only increase before the Rabbits could even blink, as Noah Prokop would steal the puck from a Rabbit near the net and shoot and score. Noah Prokops’s unassisted goal was his first goal in his ECHL career. After twenty minutes, the visiting team in white/blue would lead over the home team, Swamp Rabbits, 2-0.

2nd Period

In the first several minutes of play in the second frame, the Swamp Rabbits would put up a fight against the Walleye, applying extreme pressure on former Rabbits’ goaltender John Lethemon and controlling the momentum. The control state of the momentum would mainly be generated by the early PP at 0:21, as that had sparked up a flame that would burn until 7:13. At that mark, the Rabbits would go on another PP, but this time be channeled out by the Walleye. Around 7:43, the Rabbits would go on a rush into Toledo’s zone but make a weak pass in the zone for it to get intercepted by Mitchell Lewandowski and make a two-on-o against Ingham. Lewandowski, with support, wouldn’t make a pass to his fellow Walleye and instead have an open slot chance to fire at the point and score. With good backchecking and precision on the shot, the Walleye would have a 3-0 lead over the Rabbits. But the three-goal deficit motivated the Rabbits to muster something up, as they would post four shots on goal before 13:50, with Lethemon making needed saves. Then, at that mark, Ryan Francis would sauce the puck to Eberle in the neutral and create an open-lane rush. Tanner Eberle would speed down to Toledo’s zone alone and fire a snapshot at the left-wing end to decrease the deficit by two goals. After Eberle’s goal, the Walleye would shoot more on the net, but Greenville had intensity boiling up as they would try to pressure in Toledo’s zone. However, toward the end of the period, the Walleye would pressure hard on Ingham, but the L.A. Kings contracted netminder would make some incredible saves to keep the score at 1-3.

3rd Period

Into the final frame, the Rabbits would start out the period buzzing, pressuring, and pressurizing on Lethemon and Toledo’s defensive units. At the 0 to 6:42 mark, the Swamp Rabbits had put up seven shots on Lethemon. The effort would be rewarded because at 6:42 in Toledo’s zone, Carter Souch would feed the puck at the left-wing end to Brett Kemp for him to tip it past Lethemon and decrease the deficit by one goal. Kemp’s goal would then boost his team to have a strong hold over the Walleye. Before 15:47, the Swamp Rabbits would post seven over two shots against the Walleye. At that mark, the Walleye would draw a power play, but it would successfully get killed off again by the Rabbits. Before they even killed it off completely, the Rabbits’ Anthony Beauchamp made a good poke check in his own zone and was able to rush down into Lethemon’s territory in a short-handed situation. On the rush, Beauchamp would fly past the crease while tightly tucking the puck past Lethemon – to tie it up in a needed fashion. The tie score would continue into sudden death, 3-on-3, three-v-three overtime.

Overtime

The Walleye were dominant in overtime, as the Rabbits had plenty of opportunity to score and shoot but capitalize on it. Toledo posted three shots on Ingham, while the Rabbits posted none. Conlan Keenan, from a good zone pressure, would net the game-winner and start off the two-game series in Greenville with an impressive victory.

Game Two – March 16, St. Patricks Night

It was time for game two, and luck was floating in the air at The Well – Bon Secours Wellness Arena – as the Rabbits would host St. Patricks night with specialty green festive jerseys.

1st Period

Toledo would start out the period buzzing, as they would put a couple of shots on Bednard before 5:51 and show lingering highs of strong offense. Despite the Rabbits themselves putting up some plays on Jan Bednar, it would not result in a goal. However, that would be a different story for the Walleye. At 10:27, the Walleye would win the faceoff in the Greenville zone as Riley Sawchuk would sauce it to Michael Prapavessis. Prapavessis, motoring at the center point, would fire a laser past Bednard’s stature and open up scoring. The Walleye once again opened up the scoring, but the Rabbits would receive a power play opportunity at 15:18 to potentially tie things up. The Swamp Rabbits’ PP had a couple of chances to score, but the Walleye’s PK members were standing in the right place at the right time on the ice, blocking the shots that had to be blocked; consequently, the Rabbits only managed to put up one shot on Bednar. The Walleye demonstrated defensive discipline throughout the period. After the first 20 minute frame, the Walleye would have a 1-0 lead. Shots on goal: Toledo 11, and Greenville 10.

2nd Period

For the second slate, the Walleye were incredibly dominant in the period. Their forechecks and O-zone plays were out beating the Rabbits. Meanwhile, the Rabbits’ ability to keep the puck in the O-zone was mainly picked away by the Walleyes’ strong backcheck and great positioning; there were hardly long stay plays in the O-zone for the home team. Greenville had a couple of opportunities to score towards the buzzer; however, they mainly had shots that went high and wide. The respective goaltenders on both teams, Ryan Bednard and Jan Bednar, made excellent saves to keep the score at bay. As a result, after 40 minutes, neither team would score; so therefore, the score remained 1-0 Walleye. Shots on goal: Toledo 16; Greenville 8.

3rd Period

The Rabbits were dominant in the first couple of minutes of play, outshooting the Walleye. However, they couldn’t find a way to score, and that pity and unfortunate flow would greatly punish them at 12:54. On a two-on-two rush, Conlan Keenan fed one for Orrin Centazzo to score the insurance goal at 12:54.

But the Walleye were unsatisfied with two goals, as they had more energy in the battery. At 13:49, right off the faceoff win, Riley Sawchuk would immediately rip one through the pocket of Bednard and make it 3-0. So afterward, the Rabbits tried to score a goal but were denied by Toledo’s spicy team with high confidence to win the series. With minutes ticking down following a three-goal deficit, the Rabbits had limited options available to tie it. The final minutes were mainly Greenville trying to rush and render something on goal. But nothing would come of it. Down by three goals, the Rabbits would fall short and lose once again, concluding the two-game series at home with back-to-back losses. Toledo would appreciate the two wins in the hopes of securing a potential playoff berth, as they remain third in the Western Conference and first in the Central Division.

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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