Swamp Rabbits Weekly
2019 began with one of the biggest games of the season in Orlando to take on the Solar Bears, who hold on to the fourth and final playoff spot in the South Division. The potential for a four-point swing in the standings loomed, and the Greenville Swamp Rabbits got news that their top goal scorer, Johno May, had been called up to the AHL level. As a result, the Swamp Rabbits needed to band together to put together one of the best overall performances of the season.
Garrett Bartus led the way in net for Greenville with 29 saves on 30 shots, Brendan Harms and Dylan Vander Esch provided the offense, and the Swamp Rabbits pulled away from Orlando with two key points in regulation. The win put them four points away from the Solar Bears for the playoff spot that the Bears currently tenuously hold onto.
A return home was in the cards for the Swamp Rabbits to take on the Worcester Railers for the first time in team history. A win would put Greenville within two points of a playoff spot. Thanks to three goals in a 100-second span, that's exactly what happened. Goals from Thomas Ebbing, Chris Izmirlian, and Garrett Milan, all cued the comeback and gave the Swamp Rabbits the win.
However, even fatigued as the Worcester Railers were, playing their third game in as many days, and facing a four-game losing streak, they jumped out to a 3-0 lead through two periods of play. The Swamp Rabbits made it interesting with two goals in the third period, and a huge rally late with the extra attacker on, but the effort fell one goal short.
1/2 @ Orlando Solar Bears - W 2-1
1/5 vs. Worcester Railers - W 4-1
1/6 vs. Worcester Railers - L 3-2
FAMILY DENTAL HEALTH PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Garrett Milan - 3 GP | 2 G - 0 A - 2 P
Newcomer Garrett Milan joined the Swamp Rabbits from the Pensacola Ice Flyers of the SPHL, and after scoring 6 points in five games there, Milan has struck gold in Greenville. He posted his first goal of the season, an empty-netter to seal up Saturday's win, and got the Swamp Rabbits within a goal on Sunday afternoon with a key goal. He also found a way to revolutionize the Swamp Rabbits' third line with Stephen Pierog and Dylan Vander Esch into a consistent offensive threat every shift.
The Swamp Rabbits have pulled into fifth place in the South Division alone after a leapfrog of the Norfolk Admirals in the standings. While the Orlando Solar Bears have four games in hand, the Swamp Rabbits are four points back of them for the fourth and final playoff spot heading into this crucial weekend with the division-leading Florida Everblades on tap.
The 'Blades enter the week at 23-7-5, and their 51 points lead the league. Florida has only lost four times on home ice, and own a +25 goal differential at Hertz Arena. They have scored the most goals as a team in the league (131), and have allowed the third-fewest goals against (88).
The Swamp Rabbits have been in their fair share of one-goal games this season. At 9-6-5, they have picked up standings points in 14 of the 20 opportunities. They are especially good at winning in that situation on the road with a record of 6-2-1.
38 games into the season, the Swamp Rabbits have four double-digit goal scorers (Michael Pelech, Johno May, Austen Brassard, Chris Izmirlian). Thomas Ebbing is one goal away from joining the party.
The Swamp Rabbits have received superb goaltending from Chris Nell and Garrett Bartus since the end of the holiday break. Nell has worked to a 2.42 GAA and a .938 save percentage, and Bartus' one start since the holiday break was good for a 1.00 GAA and a .967 save percentage.
One facet of the Swamp Rabbits' game that will need to improve as the season goes along is the penalty kill. While it has been better lately than the beginning of the season, the 76.0% success rate is last in the league, and the 40 power play goals against is most in the league.
Wednesday, January 9 | at Florida Everblades | 7:30 p.m.
Watch | Listen Exclusively on ESPN Upstate
Friday, January 11 | at Florida Everblades | 7:30 p.m.
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Saturday, January 12 | at Florida Everblades | 7:00 p.m.
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SOUTH DIVISION STANDINGS
Florida Everblades (23-7-5) - 51 pts
South Carolina Stingrays (20-14-1) - 41 pts
Jacksonville Icemen (19-14-1) - 39 pts
Orlando Solar Bears (17-14-3) - 37 pts
Greenville Swamp Rabbits (14-19-3) - 33 pts
Norfolk Admirals (14-18-4) - 32 pts
Atlanta Gladiators (8-19-6) - 22 pts
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ECHL Stories from January 7, 2019
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