GREENVILLE, S.C. – The Greenville Swamp Rabbits defeated the Orlando Solar Bears on Thursday night behind Matt Bradley’s first career ECHL hat-trick in an 8-2 victory at Bon Secours Wellness Arena. Greenville’s three-game set with Orlando will continue on Saturday night in the Upstate before concluding on Sunday afternoon.
In the first period, Greenville grabbed the early advantage at 2:34 courtesy of Bradley’s fifth goal of the season. Bradley received a head-man pass from Greg Meireles and finished five-hole for his team’s first opening period goal in five games.
At 9:44, Shawn Cameron scored his first professional goal to extend Greenville’s lead to two. Cameron fired a shot from the slot past Solar Bears goaltender Michael Lackey on a rush with Garrett Thompson.
The Solar Bears cut Greenville’s lead to one at the 16:06 mark of the opening period. A Devonte Stephens center point shot beat Rabbits goalie Ryan Bednard to shift the score to 2-1.
In the second period, Greenville again extended their lead to two at the 1:47 mark. Karch Bachman intercepted a pass in neutral ice and finished the ensuing 2-on-1 rush to give the Bits a 3-1 lead.
The Swamp Rabbits further extended their lead with 2:26 remaining in the second period. Patrick Bajkov wheeled around the offensive zone and fired a shot from the right circle to add to the Greenville’s lead at 4-1.
In the third, Orlando sliced into Greenville’s advantage at 6:37. Mark Auk fired a shot from a sharp angle past Bednard to cut the deficit to 4-2.
Only 19 seconds later, Bradley notched his second goal of the contest. At 6:56, Bradley ripped a shot top shelf to regain the three-goal cushion for Greenville at 5-2.
Max Zimmer added to the Rabbits lead on the backhand in the low-slot at 9:59 to push his team’s lead to 6-2. Greenville added a seven goal only 1:59 later on a power play marker tallied by Joey Haddad on a blast from the right point. The Swamp Rabbits finished the night 1-for-2 on the man-advantage.
With 1:41 left in regulation Matt Bradley capped off his first ECHL hat-trick. Bradley received a cross ice pass from Finkelstein in his wheel house and fired a shot into an open cage to complete the 8-2 scoring line.
Both teams will rematch in the second game of a three-game set on Saturday night at Bon Secours Wellness Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Ticket information is available online at swamprabbits.com.
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Acquired by Spire Sports + Entertainment (SS+E) in 2020, the Greenville Swamp Rabbits hockey team have been providing family friendly, live entertainment at Bon Secours Wellness Arena since 2010. Formerly the Greenville Road Warriors, the Swamp Rabbits are the highest level professional minor league franchise in South Carolina. The Swamp Rabbits are proud affiliates of the NHL’s Florida Panthers and AHL’s Charlotte Checkers. Greenville is a member of the ECHL, Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League. Since the conclusion of the 2019-20 NHL Season, 678 former ECHL players have debuted in the NHL. Nine former Greenville Road Warriors/Swamp Rabbits have later made their NHL debut