Greenville, SC – The Greenville Swamp Rabbits (21-33-7-1), proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, led in the third period but two power play goals by the Orlando Solar Bears (30-26-5-1) cost the team in overtime. Shane Walsh was the offensive catalyst tonight, netting both of Greenville’s goals in the 3-2 finish. The Swamp Rabbits have now pushed four of the last eight games to overtime.
The Swamp Rabbits and Solar Bears tangled for a scoreless first period. Both teams stepped up the physicality as checks began flying from both sides. Tension in the period finally boiled over as Chad Duchesne and Tayler Thompson dropped the gloves. After the scrum, no team could get an advantage on the ice and eventually reached the first intermission with no score.
Power plays ruled the second period as both clubs responded with goals. Greenville went on the penalty kill seven minutes into the period and it took just 16 seconds for J.J. Piccinich to find the back of the net. The Solar Bears forward caught a puck that was blocked as Brandon Halverson was caught off guard by the deflection. The goal was Piccinich’s 16th of the season to put Orlando up 1-0.
A Greenville power play would tie the game six minutes later. Swamp Rabbits defenseman Sean Flanagan took the puck around the back of the net looking toward the slot for a pass. The blue liner touched it to the crease for Shane Walsh to jam a puck into the net. His effort beat goaltender Mackenzie Skapski who finished the game with 37 saves.
Walsh was the only Greenville skater to beat Skapski in the game. The winger posted a goal in the first six minutes of the third period to put the Swamp Rabbits ahead 2-1. Austin McKay battled below the goal line along with Matt Johnson and moved the puck up to Walsh in front of the crease. Again from inside the hashmarks, the second year skater tallied a goal, marking his seventh of the season.
The Solar Bears power play eventually ended the game with a pair of goals. In the third, Sam Jardine launched a shot through traffic and had enough of a screen to put it past Halverson in net. Greenville’s netminder came up with 29 saves in the end making some timely stops throughout regulation.
Greenville went on the power play in the final six minutes of regulation and earned a 5-on-3 power play as well. In the nearly three minutes of power play time, the Swamp Rabbits were stopped by the Orlando defense. In addition, Evan Jasper was called for boarding with only 45 seconds left in regulation. The penalty eventually carried into the overtime period with the score tied at 2-2.
The 4-on-3 overtime advantage set up Kale Kerbashian for a one-timer at the top of the slot. The forward notched his sixth of the year to win it in the extra period. Orlando finished the game 3-for-5 on the power play while the Swamp Rabbits were 1-for-6 on the man advantage.
The Swamp Rabbits hit the road and travel to Norfolk on Friday night to face the Admirals for a pair of games in Virginia. Greenville will wrap up the series next weekend against Norfolk with their final two games against the Admirals.
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