GREENVILLE, S.C. – The Greenville Swamp Rabbits kicked off the 2018-19 ECHL campaign by taking three out of a possible four points from the Toledo Walleye. The Rabbits lost in overtime on Friday night, 4-3, but bounced back in a big way on Saturday night, defeating Toledo 4-2.
Not many opening weekend games are seen as a “measuring stick’ but that is exactly what this weekend was for Coach Kevin Kerr‘s team. The Swamp Rabbits, who finished last in the Eastern Conference last season, were going up against a Toledo team that had won 50 or more games in three straight seasons. It looked like the Swamp Rabbits were up to the task.
Takeaways from the Weekend:
One of the biggest differences in Kevin Kerr’s Swamp Rabbit team was evident from the start. The Rabbits came out physical to start the games and it looked to pay dividends, with Toledo looking frustrated at times.
One of the biggest talking points of opening weekend has to be the play of new Swamp Rabbits goalie Garret Bartus. Bartus was a great addition for a team that gave up almost four goals per game last season. Even in the loss on Friday, Bartus made some great saves that helped the team salvage at least one point in an overtime loss. In his two starts this past weekend, Bartus posted a 2.92 GAA and had 64 saves on 70 shots. The team will need that to continue if they want to compete this season.
The Swamp Rabbits offense shined this weekend and will look to keep it up against the Atlanta Gladiators and South Carolina Stingrays this weekend. Johno May shined the brightest as he tallied three goals with two of the three coming on the power-play. One of those goals was a beautiful deke when he was 1-on-1 with Toledo goalie, Kaden Fulcher. May was helped out by Austen Brassard (1G, 2A), and defenseman Sean Flanagan (2A), who played great defensively and contributed on the offensive side.
Of course, there were plenty of things the team needs to work on moving forward but this is a welcomed start for a Swamp Rabbits team that was one of the worst in the ECHL last season.
Up Next for the Rabbits?
Overall, the Swamp Rabbits could not ask for a much better start to the new season. They will look to keep things going this weekend on the road. They will play Friday in Atlanta before heading to Charleston on Saturday to face the Stingrays.