Blown Leads Doom Swamp Rabbits
GREENVILLE, S.C. - The Greenville Swamp Rabbits held leads at three different times during Sunday's game, but ultimately, could not hold on. The Atlanta Gladiators fought back from every deficit, and struck early in the third period to defeat the Rabbits 4-3 at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena. The loss puts Greenville back to the .500 mark.
Joel Messner flipped a shot from the right point at even strength just 1:26 into the third period that evaded the mass of humanity and went through the screen and past goaltender Ryan Bednard to give Atlanta a lead they would not relinquish. Bednard was pulled for the extra attacker, but the Swamp Rabbits could not set up consistent offensive pressure.
It was back and forth for the rest of the afternoon for two clubs that were playing their third game in two and a half days.
The first period started the way any team would want it to- with an early goal. Just over six minutes in, a heads-up play by Will Lochead and Adam Rockwood flipped the puck to an open area where Liam Pecararo raced to the open spot, dangled Sean Bonar and fired the puck five hole for the opening salvo.
Nemesis Scott Conway, on a skill play by Joona Koppanen, scored his fourth goal in two games by being in the right place at the right time. Koppanen made a stickhandle on Travis Howe, outwaited Bednard who went out for the poke check, and centered the puck to the hard-charging Conway, who scored his fifth of the season.
Jake Massie scored his first goal as a Swamp Rabbit on a tic-tac-toe passing play between Patrick Bajkov, Pecararo and himself. Massie one-timed the pass from Pecararo top shelf to get the lead back at 2-1. But the lead only lasted three minutes, as Tommy Marchin converted on a power play caused by a tripping minor by Kamerin Nault.
Bajkov got his own by banking a centering pass off of a Gladiators defender and past a stunned Bonar. Mason Baptista appeared to get a stick on it, and initially was given the goal, but upon further review, it was given to Bajkov. Messner's first point shot wiped out that lead late in the second period to tie the game at three heading into the third period.
Atlanta's power play was the story of the night in helping them re-gain the lead and keep it. They went 2-for-3, and stayed out of the box aside from a tripping penalty from Samuel Asselin early in the first period.
Next weekend, the Swamp Rabbits will take on the Gladiators both Friday and Saturday at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena. Tickets are available at SwampRabbits.com, or at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena box office.
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