MACON, Ga. – The Greenville Swamp Rabbits gave their fans the first taste of playoff hockey in the Bon Secours Wellness Arena on Thursday night. They’ll now aim to allow that same contingent to witness history.
Strong goaltending from Ryan Bednard and clutch goals were once again the winning formula for the Swamp Rabbits in the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs, as a 3-1 win gave them a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
Greenville will now look to advance to the conference finals on Friday in Greenville. A win would be the team’s first postseason sweep in its history.
Thursday’s game had a similar feel as the series opener in Indianapolis with Greenville’s lead as the second period went on being doggedly challenged by the Fuel, only to be turned back each time by the Swamp Rabbits clogging the Fuel passing lanes in addition to Bednard making save after save. Bednard, who has now given up just one goal in the series, had 26 saves.
Indy did finally get on the board for the first time in the series on Thursday. It was Terry Broadhurst who finally solved Bednard, scoring 12:30 into the game to tie it at 1-1. The score, assisted by Peter Krieger came after Greenville jumped on Indy in a big way, leading 1-0 only 46 seconds into the game thanks to Liam Pecaro. Garrett Thompson and Ben Finkelstein assisted on the goal that ignited the home crowd.
🚨 Not even a minute in and Liam Pecararo gives the Bits a 1-0 lead! pic.twitter.com/FKQ1wEc7BY
— X – Greenville Swamp Rabbits (@SwampRabbits) June 10, 2021
Early-period magic struck again for the Swamp Rabbits in the second. With Shawn Cameron setting it up, Joey Haddad got the puck past Fuel goalie Dan Bakala for what ended up being the game-winner. Bakala, who started after Billy Christopoulos got the nod in game one, had 17 saves.
🚨🚨 THE CAPTAIN GIVES US A 2-1 LEAD! pic.twitter.com/kzBzaGWF3q
— X – Greenville Swamp Rabbits (@SwampRabbits) June 11, 2021
Greenville may have had the lead early in the second, but it was hardly an easy coast to the win.
Three times in the game’s final 26 minutes, the Swamp Rabbits went on the penalty kill. Each time, they came away unscathed, turning away five Fuel penalties overall on Thursday. Even in the waning stages, with Bakala pulled for an extra attacker, Indy had two face offs within the final 100 seconds on the Swamp Rabbits end of the ice. Greenville stood strong, securing the win and moving within one game of a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals as Frank DiChiara added the empty-net goal.
Greenville will go for the series sweep on Friday at home. Catch the game’s broadcast on The Sin Bin app.