SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Greenville Swamp Rabbits were able to secure three points in three games this past week against South Division opponents. The team has started to play much better as of late, but are still having trouble closing out games.
Results From Last Week:
Wednesday, Nov. 21: @ Atlanta Gladiators, L 4-3 in OT
If you are a fan of the Swamp Rabbits, the pre-Turkey day game Wednesday night was all over the place for you. My Atlanta colleague, Robert Grubbs, has the recap of the contest.
Friday, Nov. 23: @ Jacksonville Icemen, W 5-4
It looked like this Swamp Rabbits team had filled their bellies on Thanksgiving and came out ready to go on Friday night. For the first two periods, it looked like a different team had taken the ice at Veterans Memorial Arena. Stephen Pierog scored the only goal of the first period for Greenville but you could tell this team was playing much better offensively and defensively.
Austen Brassard and Will Merchant made it a 3-0 lead early on in the second period. But, if you have followed this team, or read about the Atlanta game from Wednesday night, you know that Greenville has not been good at holding leads. The comeback was on and Jacksonville Icemen forward, Maxime Fortier, led the charge with a goal late in the second period and another just a couple of minutes into period three.
The comeback effort was halted when Brassard added his second goal of the night. Jacksonville scored about halfway through the third period but could not get a goal to tie the game when they needed it.
Chris Nell, who was loaned to Greenville earlier in the week, picked up a win with 19 saves in his first game back with the Swamp Rabbits.
Here are the highlights of the great performance on Friday night.
Five goals = two points and a win! 👍🏽
Check out the highlights from last night's 5-4 victory over first place Jacksonville. pic.twitter.com/nHunPMX6Ba
— Greenville Swamp Rabbits (@SwampRabbits) November 24, 2018
Saturday, Nov. 24: @ Jacksonville Icemen, L 5-1
On Saturday night, it was the Icemen who came out of the game strong. They looked to put Friday night’s performance behind them and accomplished that in a big way on Saturday. Jacksonville was leading 2-1 heading into the third period before they scored three unanswered goals.
It does not show on the stat sheet but the Swamp Rabbits played well for two periods. They did not look confused and out of place like they have much of this season. They just could not hang with the better team for two nights in a row. It ended up being a 5-1 win for the Icemen.
Player of the Week:
Austen Brassard (3G, 1A) has to get the nod this week. He did not have as many points as other players this week, but he had timely goals in a couple of games. His goal in the final minute against Atlanta allowed the Swamp Rabbits grab a point that looked out of reach. Then, his goal on Friday night against Jacksonville put the brakes on their comeback attempt and ended up being the game-winner. He’s started playing well and showing up in big moments for Greenville. Hopefully, that will continue.
- Chris Nell will make Garrett Bartus better. Bartus has been a workhorse for the Swamp Rabbits this season. Nell is not taking his spot as the number one goalie but it will give Bartus the chance to rest during some back-to-backs.
- This team has to learn to hold leads. This team is finally starting to look like they know how to play hockey again. They have come out aggressive, played “better” defense, and have grabbed plenty of leads lately. The problem is that they cannot hold them. I feel like every week we are writing about the team’s inconsistency and this week is no different. Hockey games are 60 minutes but the Swamp Rabbits have not played like it.
Right now, the Swamp Rabbits are sixth out of seven teams in the South Division. They also have played four more games than Atlanta, the team currently in seventh. The top five teams are separating themselves from Greenville and Atlanta.
- Jacksonville, 13-6-0, 26 PTS
- Norfolk, 10-7-1, 21 PTS
- Florida, 9-5-3, 21 PTS
- South Carolina, 10-8-0, 20 PTS
- Orlando, 9-7-2, 20 PTS
- Greenville, 6-11-3, 15 PTS
- Atlanta, 5-9-2, 12 PTS
The Swamp Rabbits have three games against South Division teams coming up this week. They kick their week off on Wednesday when the Norfolk Admirals come to Greenville for an Education Day game.
Wednesday, November 28: vs. Norfolk Admirals (10:30 am)
Friday, November 30: @ Atlanta Gladiators (7:35 pm)
Saturday, December 1: vs. Atlanta Gladiators (7:30 pm)