Max Martin’s game-tying strike with 35.2 seconds left, coupled with Atlanta’s loss brings magic number to 5
(GREENVILLE, SC) – Max Martin squared the game with the extra attacker with 35.2 seconds remaining to push the Greenville Swamp Rabbits into overtime. However, Stefan LeBlanc of the Florida Everblades gave the visitors the second point with 1:11 left in the extra session, providing the defending champions with a 2-1 win on Friday night. With the point gained in overtime, coupled with the Atlanta Gladiators 4-3 loss to the Savannah Ghost Pirates, the Swamp Rabbits magic number to clinch a Kelly Cup Playoff spot is 5 entering tomorrow’s showdown against Savannah.
Both goaltenders were perfect in the opening frame, with Greenville’s David Hrenak stopping all 7 shots faced, and Florida’s Cam Johnson countering with 9 saves of his own. It wasn’t until 2:01 into the second period when Logan Lambdin fired a sharp angle shot from behind the goal line that found its way past Hrenak’s helmet and in, giving the Everblades a 1-0 lead (Andrew Fyten had the lone assist). The Everblades stayed hungry offensively, clanking the goal posts twice not even minutes after establishing their narrow advantage. On the other end of the ice, Johnson continued his brilliant backstopping in the crease for Florida, turning aside an additional 12 shots for 19 total saves entering the final frame.
The Swamp Rabbits threw everything and the kitchen sink at Johnson, who continued to make point blank saves on shots that were within inches of tying the game. Greenville continued to find consistent offense, rattling the post sporadically throughout the last 20 minutes. Backs to the wall, Hrenak was pulled from the net for the extra attacker, and Greenville found a way to push the game past 60 minutes. With 35.2 seconds remaining, Max Martin ripped a shot from inside the blue line, through traffic, and behind Johnson, squaring the game at 1-1 and perpetuating the game (Alex Ierullo and Brannon McManus assisted).
The Swamp Rabbits outplayed the Everblades for the vast majority of overtime, which included a power play in the middle of the stanza. However, Florida killed it off, and found a winner shortly after. With 1:11 remaining in overtime, Stefan LeBlanc motored around the neutral zone, beat his defender, and rifled a top corner shot to secure the second point for the Everblades, bringing the game to a 2-1 final score. Out of six head-to-head meetings, five games between these heated South Division rivals have been decided by one goal.
David Hrenak stopped 29 of 31 shots faced, suffering the overtime defeat (20-11-4-1).
The Swamp Rabbits are back in action tomorrow night against the Savannah Ghost Pirates, with puck drop at 7:05 p.m. at Bon Secours Wellness Arena. Tomorrow nights game is “Sustainability Night”, presented by Arthrex. Additionally, Saturday’s game is a special dog-friendly game, thanks to our friends at Noble Dog Hotel.