Orlando Endures in Greenville's Home Finale
GREENVILLE, S.C. - The Greenville Swamp Rabbits put forth a strong effort on home ice in the home finale, tying the Orlando Solar Bears twice. However, the Solar Bears struck twice in the final five minutes of the second period put them on top for good in a 5-2 win over the Swamp Rabbits on Sunday afternoon at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
Otto Somppi struck at the 15:44 mark of the second period on a broken play that found its way into the net, and Dylan Fitze converted on a 3-on-2 break in the final minute of the middle frame to take what once was a 2-2 tie to a 4-2 lead.
The Solar Bears added an empty netter from Somppi, who has victimized the Swamp Rabbits all season long, to put the game away in the midst of a 6-on-4 power play chance. The Solar Bears scored twice shorthanded in the game.
Orlando struck first to open the scoring at 1:17, and took the lead to start the second period, but the Swamp Rabbits had the answer.
Mathieu Foget opened the scoring early on a defensive breakdown. Mitch Hults found him uncovered in front of the net for a one-timer that caught Garrett Bartus down and out for the opening tally.
It would take 13 minutes for Greenville to respond, but they did so on a neutral zone turnover. Stephen Pierog intelligently shot the puck off of Connor Ingram's far pad, and the rebound posted right out to Danny Elser, who poked home his second goal in his last three games, to even the score.
Orlando pressed hard on the penalty kill and after Bartus stonewalled a few chances, could not stop the Solar Bears' best. Troy Bourke worked a 2-on-1 break, and Alex Schoenborn connected to give Orlando the lead again.
Just a minute and 20 seconds later, the Swamp Rabbits responded. Fresh newcomer Danny Perez jumped onto a loose puck in the offensive zone off of a tie-up draw and fired a seed short side to tie the game at two. It was his first pro goal in his first pro game out of the University of Maine.
The game ended with some fireworks- two fights, to be precise- and as the horn sounded to end the game, the players took a lap around The Well to salute the fans.
Both teams in both matchups were unable to strike on the power play against struggling penalty killing units, but it was Orlando that scored three shorthanded goals in the two-game series. Orlando won the season series with five wins in nine meetings.
The Swamp Rabbits head to the road to take on the Norfolk Admirals for the final three games of the season starting Wednesday, April 3 on ESPN Upstate, and Friday, April 5 and Saturday, April 6 on the Swamp Rabbits Broadcast Network.
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