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 Greenville Swamp Rabbits

Solar Bears Take Series Lead with Overtime Win

April 29, 2024 - ECHL (ECHL)
Greenville Swamp Rabbits News Release

ORLANDO, Fla. - Despite a high-scoring affair, the Greenville Swamp Rabbits fell to the Orlando Bears in the third overtime matchup of the series, 6-5, in Game 5 of the South Division Semifinals on Sunday night. The loss gives the Solar Bears a 3-2 series lead ahead of the teams' return to Greenville for Game 6 on Tuesday, April 30th.

Orlando kicked off the scoring at 3:31 of the opening period when Spencer Kersten snuck in Alex Frye's rebound for an early 1-0 lead, scoring the first goal for just the second time this series. The Solar Bears' effort proved to be in vain, however, as the Swamp Rabbits netted three unanswered goals to take a 3-1 lead before the opening period buzzer sounded. Bobby Russell kicked things off for Greenville, whizzing the puck straight through traffic and past Evan Fitzpatrick to tie the score at 1-1 halfway through the first (Logan Britt and Young assisted). Shortly after Russell tied the game, Brannon McManus netted the go-ahead for Greenville, potting the back door rebound of Nick Prkusic's net-front attempt. Prkusic received a pass through the neutral zone from Ethan Somoza and skated the puck toward Fitzpatrick's crease. Fitzpatrick denied Prkusic's attempt with a kick save, but McManus caught the rebound. Less than a minute later, Young netted a goal of his own to establish a two-goal lead. Fitzpatrick blocked Tyler Inamoto's wrist shot from the blue line, but Young backhanded the rebound straight through the netminder's legs to push the Swamp Rabbits to a 3-1 lead entering the middle frame.

The score danced back and forth during the second period. The Solar Bears came out swinging, opening the period with a goal from Tyler Bird to bring the game within one. Jayden Dureau skated the puck through all three zones before dishing a cross-ice pass to Bird in front of the crease. Bird's shot deflected off the body of a Swamp Rabbit and went in at 3:14 (Marc-Andre Gaudet also assisted). However, it didn't take long for Greenville to respond. Halfway through the period, Russell ripped a shot clean through traffic for his second of the contest (assisted by Young and Quinn Olson) to reinstate the Swamp Rabbits' two-goal lead. The two teams traded goals again to close the middle frame; Orlando struck again, courtesy of Luke Boka, who lifted the puck into the net from a side angle (assisted by Jesse Jacques and Kersten) at 14:24. Two minutes later, in a lone effort, Carter Souch carried the puck through the neutral zone and fell to his knees while spinning around a defender. From his knees, Souch backhanded a shot past Fitzpatrick for the 5-3 lead entering the third period.

The Solar Bears brought the game within one for the third time to open the final period. Gaudet played the puck off the body of Inamoto while i n stride through the neutral zone. The puck was redirected off of the Swamp Rabbit defenseman and onto the stick of Jacques, who quickly ripped it past Jacob Ingham to bring the score to 5-4. The period remained relatively quiet until the 16:52 mark, when Aaron Luchuk received a pass from Brayden Low from behind the net and beat Ingham on the left to tie the game at 5 a side (Jimmy Mazza also assisted). Neither team beat the buzzer for the game-winner during the final three minutes of regulation, forcing overtime for the third time in five games so far this series.

Just 1:40 into overtime, Low netted the game-winner for the Solar Bears. Low picked up the loose puck in the slot and poked it past Ingham to secure Orlando's third overtime win of the series (assisted by Tyler Bird).

Ingham stopped 31 of 37 shots in his third overtime loss of the series (0-0-3). Evan Fitzpatrick stopped 38 of 43 shots from the Swamp Rabbits for the win.

The Swamp Rabbits continue their quest for the Kelly Cup in Game 6 of the South Division Semifinals on Tuesday, April 30. Puck drop is slated for 7:05 p.m. EST at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.

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