GREENVILLE, SC – The Greenville Swamp Rabbits got ahead early and held off the South Carolina Stingrays in Game 1 of the teams’ opening round Kelly Cup Playoffs series at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
Greenville took a commanding lead in the first half of the contest, amassing a 5-1 lead over the Stingrays. Multi-goal efforts by Brandon Alderson and Allan McPherson fueled the win in addition to a 34 save performance by Jeff Malcolm.
The Swamp Rabbits wasted no time in the game, securing a 2-0 advantage less than six minutes into the night. Alderson and his linemates, Angelo Miceli and Bretton Cameron, connected on three quick passes in the offensive zone before the fourth-year pro netted Greenville’s first playoff goal. Cameron trucked down the ice and got the puck to the front of the net where Alderson eventually tallied his tenth career playoff goal less than four minutes into the game.
Tyler Brown joined the action less than two minutes later in transition. McPherson took the puck down the ice and found the winger in the high slot before lacing a shot off the post and into the net.
The Stingrays slowed the charge as Patrick Gaul tallied the Stingrays first goal of the game late in the period. On a 3-on-2, Kevin Dufour dropped the puck back to Gaul for a wide open shot in the slot. The one goal deficit at the end of the first period would be as close as South Carolina would come to Greenville.
Just like the first, the Swamp Rabbits catapulted out of the tunnel into the second period. McPherson battled for the puck behind the Stingrays net and got it in front to Adam Chapie just off the right post. A quick flick of the wrists fed the puck across the crease to Ahti Oksanen for a tap in at 2:48.
Parker Milner continued to be left out to dry in the game as Greenville picked apart the Stingrays defense. On the Swamp Rabbits lone power play of the game, Alderson collected his second goal of the game and the eventual game-winning goal to push the Swamp Rabbits to a 4-1 lead. Miceli earned another assist with a pass on the money to Alderson for the one-timer at 4:30 of the second period.
Finally, McPherson ended the charge with his first goal of the game and third point of the evening at 5:44. Spiro Goulakos used his vision off a face off and put a perfect pass to the third year center on the right side of the net. Milner was caught completely off guard as Goulakos faked the shot from the blue line and connected with McPherson for the tally.
South Carolina countered at the end of the period with two goals. Kelly Zajac netted the first at 14:23 on a breakaway before Rob Flick popped a puck into the net on a deflection.
Malcolm kept the lead from diminishing for Greenville with key saves, including a toe stop with less than two minutes to play in the second period. The netminder extended his winning trend into the playoffs with his sixth straight victory. Greenville’s fourth-year goaltender made 34 saves on the Stingrays during his eighth career postseason contest.
McPherson completed a four-point affair in the third period to seal the victory for the Swamp Rabbits. Oksanen connected with McPherson for the final goal of the game as it was passed right across the crease. Brown fed it to the left side of the net and the rookie from Finland pushed it back across for the tap in.
The Swamp Rabbits penalty kill came in with a 4-for-4 performance including a first period 5-on-3. Despite being outshot 37 to 25, Greenville collected the win to take care of home ice advantage.
Game two of the series goes tonight at 7:30 pm ET.