Swamp Rabbits Run Rampant in Maine
PORTLAND, Maine - The Greenville Swamp Rabbits shot nearly 30% on the night, took a lead, and never looked back. Four goals from Chris Izmirlian, and a six-goal second period outburst highlighted an offensive explosion for Greenville in an 8-2 rout over the Maine Mariners on Saturday night at Cross Insurance Arena.
The eight goals scored by the Swamp Rabbits matched a season high, scored on November 15 against the Norfolk Admirals. It was also the second consecutive night that the Mariners had given up eight goals, having done so last night against the Cincinnati Cyclones.
Izmirlian had been held quiet since his return to the lineup, but his offensive output, on six shots on goal, was a career-high, and a season highlight. He started the scoring at the 6:23 mark of the first, scored two more to complete the hat trick in the second period, and capped the team's scoring at the 15:42 mark of the third.
The Swamp Rabbits built a 4-0 lead nearing the halfway point of the second period. Izmirlian scored his hat trick by then, opening the scoring on a pass from Dylan Vander Esch. Will Merchant scored his first of two tallies shortly thereafter on an unassisted shorthanded tally to double the lead.
The second period saw the fireworks. Maine found a way to cut Greenville's lead in half with quick strikes. Their first, from Jason Salvaggio, was just 17 seconds after Izmirlian's third goal, and Dillan Fox's rebound goal came at 8:11.
After that though, it was all Greenville. The captain, Michael Pelech, converted on a bad bounce in the Maine zone and found himself out in front to shorten the leash on Mariners goaltender Connor LaCouvee. Merchant provided the final dagger in his night with a power play goal from the right circle.
In came former NHL goaltender Hannu Toivonen, and he was welcomed to the game with a goal against on his first shot faced. Thomas Ebbing won the faceoff back to Johno May, who wrapped the goal and scored for the first time in 12 games. Izmirlian ended his four-goal night with a tic-tac-toe passing play from Austen Brassard and Brendan Harms.
While there was plenty of offensive firepower to solidify the win, the Swamp Rabbits received a quality outing from goaltender Garrett Bartus, who slammed the door shut on the road. His 29 saves, buoyed by a set of outstanding saves on the penalty kill, and a great lunging save in the final moments, kept Maine off the board and gave the Swamp Rabbits confidence to keep pressing.
It was also a return to form for the Swamp Rabbits' power play, which had been held largely silent for the past month. Greenville generated goals on two of three power play chances they had on the night.
The Swamp Rabbits now have wins in two of three games before concluding the weekend set.
The three-game weekend concludes in Manchester to take on the Monarchs on Sunday, February 10. Catch all of the action on the Swamp Rabbits Broadcast Network, or on ECHL.TV.
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Greenville Swamp Rabbits forwards Johno May (12) and Kamerin Nault
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