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2021 Kelly Cup Playoffs

Swamp Rabbits Top Fuel, Move on to Conference Finals

Swamp Rabbits Top Fuel, Move on to Conference Finals

rIt’s on to the Eastern Conference Finals for the Greenville Swamp Rabbits.

A loss on Saturday night to the Indy Fuel would have meant the series going back to Indiana for a decisive fifth game. The Swamp Rabbits saw to it that the ECHL Kelly Cup playoff series did not come to that, holding on to win 3-2. Greenville will now face either South Carolina or Florida in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Everblades lead that series 2-1 after a 5-1 win on Saturday.

A pair of goals by Graham Knott within 2:05 of one another in the second period broke a scoreless tie at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, and the Swamp Rabbits parlayed that advantage into a series-clinching win.

Greenville led 3-1 at 6:14 of the third on a power-play goal by Greg Meireles but had to fight off a furious charge by the Fuel. It got even testier 11:39 into the final period when Spencer Watson’s goal, assisted by Michael Pelech, trimmed the Greenville lead to 3-2.

Swamp Rabbits goalie John Lethemon, making his first start of the series, turned away everything Indy put toward the goal, including a pair of faceoffs in the final 90 seconds on the Swamp Rabbits end, one with 44 seconds to go. Even after that, the nailbiting continued as a no-goal call with six seconds remaining was reviewed and upheld. After one more faceoff, time ran out, sending Greenville to the conference finals.

The Swamp Rabbits made the Fuel pay dearly for trips to the penalty box on Saturday. Greenville went to the power play seven times, scoring twice on those chances. The first came by way of Graham Knott, whose score 6:20 into the second off assists by Meireles and Gordi Myer made it 2-0. He also scored the game’s first goal 4:15 into second with Meireles and Liam Pecaro assisting.

The bigger penalty, however, would come early in the third with Greenville leading 2-1. As Myer was on the receiving end of a big hit, Indy’s Antoine Waked was issued a match penalty. Myer, after being attended to by the Swamp Rabbits training, was able to skate away under his own power. It set the table for Meireles goal to extend the lead to 3-1, which ended up being critical when Indy trimmed the lead to 3-2.

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    Brad Harrison covers the Macon Mayhem for Field Pass Hockey. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @FPHMayhem.

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