GREENVILLE, S.C. – Mitchell Hoelscher hit pay dirt twice and the ECHL’s top penalty kill held the hosts at bay as the Orlando Solar Bears defeated the Greenville Swamp Rabbits by a 5-2 score on Wednesday night from Bon Secours Wellness Arena. The loss ends Greenville’s winning streak at four games, and point streak at five.
It took the Solar Bears virtually no time to navigate the Swamp Rabbits’ defense. Orlando’s Mitchell Hoelscher lit the lamp first at 1:42 with a top-shelf shot from the left circle that beat Swamp Rabbits net-minder Ryan Bednard, giving the visitors an early 1-0 lead (Jaydon Dureau and Chays Ruddy assisted). Orlando doubled it’s lead halfway through the period, capitalizing near the end of their first power play. With 9:00 remaining in the first, Jaydon Dureau rifled a shot from the left side that took a high arcing trajectory over Bednard’s shoulder and squeaked in, giving the Solar Bears a 2-0 lead (Tanner Dickinson and Ben Carroll assisted). Exactly 1:15 later, Greenville struck back in transition, as Josh McKechney dished a cross-ice pass to Carter Souch, who tipped the puck past Orlando goaltender Colton Ellis for his 14th marker of the season to cut the deficit to 2-1 (McKechney and JD Greenway assisted). Not to be outdone, Tyler Bird quickly re-established the multi-goal lead with a slick maneuver in close, beating Bednard short side to vault Orlando to a 3-1 advantage with 6:15 left in the first. Bednard, stopping 7 of 10 shots in the opening 13:45, was pulled from the game. Luke Richardson manned the Swamp Rabbits net the rest of the way out.
The Solar Bears increased their lead to 4-1 just about halfway through the middle frame. with help from Alexandre Fortin and Jess Jacques, Aaron Luchuk–all alone on the righthand side–whizzed a high-slot shot past Richardson right as Orlando’s third power play expired with 9:48 left in the frame.
The Swamp Rabbits came out swinging in the final period and found some life with an early strike. With just 3:46 played, Tanner Eberle caught a Nikita Pavlychev cross-ice pass, walked through Orlando’s defensive zone, and fired a top-shelf laser past Ellis’ glove, slashing the Solar Bears lead to 3-2 (Pavlychev had the only assist, his 99th point as a Swamp Rabbit). Desperate to make a push in the final three minutes, Richardson was pulled from the Greenville net for an extra attacker. However, the effort came up short, signified with a Mitchell Hoelscher empty-netter almost the full length of the ice with 2:40 remaining, solidifying a Solar Bears 5-2 win.
Ryan Bednard suffered the loss, stopping 7 of 10 shots in 13:45 of playing time (10-8-0-0). Luke Richardson played 46:02 in relief, and turned aside all but one of 13 shots on net.
The Swamp Rabbits rematch the Orlando Solar Bears on Friday, January 12th, with puck drop slated for 7:05 p.m. EST inside Bon Secours Wellness Arena. Friday’s game is “Jazz Night”, presented by The Lost Cajun, featuring live music from local performers throughout the entire game. The Lost Cajun will also giveaway branded beads to the first 1,000 fans, good for a free appetizer between now and Mardi Gras on February 13th.
About the Greenville Swamp Rabbits …
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 the proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL's LA Kings and the AHL's Ontario Reign. Greenville is a member of the ECHL, Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League.