Greenville Swamp Rabbits
North Charleston, SC – The Greenville Swamp Rabbits’, proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, aspirations of a Kelly Cup Championship ended tonight after dropping Game 6 of the South Division Semifinal. Greenville fell short tonight at the North Charleston Coliseum in a 4-0 finish as the Stingrays take the first-round series 4-2. South Carolina awaits either the Florida Everblades or Orlando Solar Bears who will play Game 6 tomorrow night.
Out of the first period, the pace of play was fast and furious. The Stingrays came out swinging back at Greenville’s pace and tallied 19 shots on net. Jeff Malcolm came out calm and collected early on, making save after save against the Stingrays. The Greenville netminder made a game high 18 saves in the opening period and eventually ended the game with 28 saves.
South Carolina was on the power play three times in the opening period and tallied the only goal of the first period on the man advantage. Derek Arnold quarterbacked passes around the perimeter of the zone with Joe Devin and Kelly Zajac. The winger then found some open ice and took his shot from the blue line. Through traffic, the slap shot snuck into the back of the net to open the scoring.
After the first intermission, the Swamp Rabbits entered the second period at the coliseum with the goal of overtaking the Stingrays lead for the first time in the series. South Carolina’s defense continued to prevent shots from sailing through to the net. Eventually, the Stingrays extended the lead to 2-0. John Parker skated down the ice for a breakaway after poking a puck past the blue line. The rookie tallied his third of the playoffs on the shorthanded break at 14:15 of the second period.
Patrick Gaul added a tally at 18:01 to extend the advantage to 3-0. Steven McParland battled against the left boards and forced the puck to Gaul. The alternate captain gained body position and lifted his third playoff goal into the net on the odd-man opportunity.
Greenville’s power play was stymied on five opportunities in the game, which included back-to-back power plays in the third period. Cody Corbett and John Parker each earned delay of game penalties early in the final frame to give the Swamp Rabbits an opening. The Stingrays shut down their chances and sealed off defensively. Greenville could not defeat Parker Milner in net on 26 shots and a game high 12 in the third period. The Stingrays netminder collected his fourth win in net and his second shutout on home ice in the postseason.
The Stingrays leading scorer Rob Flick capped the night with an empty net goal in the final minute of play. The win moves South Carolina onto the second round of the playoffs for the third consecutive season.
Greenville’s Kelly Cup Playoffs berth halted a two-year drought and put the team into the postseason for the fifth time in franchise history. The team’s 40-win season was also the third in franchise history.