GREENVILLE, S.C. — Down 3-0 after one period of the play, the Greenville Swamp Rabbits never gave up. Greenville posted two goals in the second period, and one more in the third to claw within a goal, but the South Carolina Stingrays outlasted a shot barrage and the Swamp Rabbits' comeback to win 4-3 on Friday night at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
BOXSCOREShane Eiserman's power play goal late in the second period to give the Rays a 4-2 lead proved to be the game-winning goal. A centering pass from the corner deflected off of a defender's skate and through the pads of Chris Nell to give the Rays a lead they would eventually not relinquish. But they were given a scare.Down 3-0 after the first period, when the South Carolina Stingrays scored on three of the six shots they fired on net, the Swamp Rabbits responded in earnest and flew out of the gate in the second period.The comeback started while on the penalty kill. In the dying seconds of the kill, Michael Pelech rushed the puck up the ice, and found a streaking Chris Izmirlian down the right wing. His pass was right on the tape, and Izmirlian connected five hole on Gordon Defiel to get Greenville on the board. Initially counted a shorthanded goal, the tag was taken away.The comeback kept rolling. Six minutes later, on a power play of their own, the Swamp Rabbits did not miss. Brendan Harms was in the right place at the right time after Will Merchant's shot missed the net and his bank shot found a way into the net to get the game within a goal at 3-2, until Eiserman extended the lead to 4-2.Pelech did not rest on his laurels. Already with two points in the game, he picked up a third. On a penalty kill six and a half minutes into the third period, he cleanly stole the puck away from a stationary Johnathan Charbonneau and scored to once again, claw within a goal.The comeback ultimately fell short, even with a power play, and a multi-man advantage late in the action, Defiel's heroics came when it mattered most. The Swamp Rabbits outshot the Stingrays 13-6 in the first, 16-4 in the second, and 12-7 in the third period for a game total of 41-17. Defiel made 38 saves, including a ten-bell, pad-stack stop on Merchant in the first period to prevent the Swamp Rabbits from picking up a foothold early.South Carolina wasted no time to get on the board to begin the game. Charbonneau got the first goal just 24 seconds into the game on a rebound opportunity of a point shot from Kevin McKernan. Eiserman and former Swamp Rabbit Vinny Muto teamed up to give Sam Fioretti a goal just about four minutes later on a deflection in front of Nell's goal. Andrew Cherniwchan's breakaway goal in the final minute extended the Rays' lead to 3-0 after the first 20 minutes.The Greenville Swamp Rabbits will play a rematch against the South Carolina Stingrays on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are available at SwampRabbits.com.
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