Third Period Vaults Swamp Rabbits to Victory
GREENVILLE, S.C. - The Greenville Swamp Rabbits saw another lead dissolve, but this time, they came through in the clutch to seize victory. Two third period goals catapulted the Swamp Rabbits back to the lead, and kept them ahead in a 4-2 win over the Orlando Solar Bears in front of 7,377 fans at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena on Friday night.
Kyle Hayton made 32 saves, Zach Franko posted two goals and an assist, and the Swamp Rabbits' resilience came to the forefront as they fended off an Orlando club that only needed a win to clinch a playoff spot.
The ever red-hot Kamerin Nault threaded a picture-perfect pass to Austen Brassard waiting on the back door, and with his stick on the ice, tapped the puck past goaltender Clint Windsor to give the Swamp Rabbits a lead they would not relinquish just 36 seconds into the third period.
Franko capped off the win with an empty-net goal with 57 seconds left in the third period after Hayton made a flurry of saves in the defensive zone.
Orlando had to respond after falling down 2-0, and did so after pulling starting goaltender Connor Ingram in favor of Windsor. Following that, the sleeping bear awoke. Goals from Otto Somppi, shorthanded, and Chris LeBlanc after an extended shift in the offensive zone that lasted two minutes, tied the game at two.
Jake Bolton gave the Swamp Rabbits the 2-0 lead that led to the Orlando comeback. His 12th of the season came off of a blast from the point on assists from Clint Lewis and Franko to extend the lead 46 seconds into the second period.
The Swamp Rabbits opened the scoring with some netfront traffic. Tyler Bird drove the net, and with the puck sitting in the crease, like a putter just inches away from the cup on the 18th hole green, Franko tapped home the rebound to get the Swamp Rabbits on the board for his first of three points on the night.
It was the fifth consecutive game that Greenville struck first.
The Swamp Rabbits' penalty kill was also forced into action five times, including a stretch of 5-on-3 time in the first period while up 1-0 that the team killed off. In all, both clubs could not convert on the man advantage.
Before heading on the road to close out the season, the home season finale is Sunday, March 31 against the Orlando Solar Bears at 3:00 p.m. For tickets, go to SwampRabbits.com.
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ECHL Stories from March 29, 2019
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