Swamp Rabbits' Comeback Spoiled by 'Blades
GREENVILLE, S.C. - The Greenville Swamp Rabbits battled back from 2-1 down heading into the third period, but the Florida Everblades scored the only goal in the shootout to pick up the extra point, as the 'Blades spoiled the comeback 3-2 at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena on Friday night. It was the first game back from the holiday break for Greenville.
Blake Winiecki, in the bottom of the second round, shot a half-speeder five hole on Chris Nell for the only goal of the shootout. In the third round, needing a goal to continue, Johno May appeared to score and extend the shootout, but the goal was waved off.
The Swamp Rabbits had to battle back from down after two periods of play, which the Everblades had been nearly perfect in that situation all season long. The only loss they had coming into tonight was in overtime. While shorthanded early in the third period, Will Merchant picked off a pass at the top of the zone, and sped off to the races. Merchant broke in alone and snapped a shot over Everblades goaltender Jeremy Helvig's glove to tie the game at two.
Greenville scored the first goal against Florida for the first time this season nine minutes into the opening period. A neutral zone turnover by the 'Blades turned sour for Florida as Stephen Pierog broke in two-on-one with Travis Howe. Pierog tried to center the puck in front, and the puck bounded off of an Everblades defender and into the goal to start the scoring.
Florida scored the next two goals to take the lead. First, late in the first frame, Justin Auger used his size and worked off of a Greenville defensive zone turnover and converted on his own rebound to connect and tie the game with less than a minute to go in the period. Then, on a power play in the second period, Matt Finn found himself with a ton of space in the high slot, and snapped a shot past Nell to give the 'Blades the lead.
Nell, however, kept the Swamp Rabbits in the game at every turn, denying two shootout shots, and 39 of 41 opportunities fired his way. He made several key stops on consistent threat Joe Cox, and helped the penalty kill deny three of four opportunities on the night. He made 15 saves in the third period alone to preserve the game and send it to overtime.
The Greenville Swamp Rabbits will take on the Everblades once again on Saturday, December 29. Tickets are available at SwampRabbits.com.
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