GREENVILLE, S.C. - Brett Kemp and Colton Young record two-point nights, and ECHL All-Star Ryan Bednard stopped all but one of 25 shots to lift the Greenville Swamp Rabbits to a 4-1 win over the South Carolina Stingrays at North Charleston Coliseum on Sunday afternoon. The win, the Swamp Rabbits fourth in a row as part of a five-game point streak, solidifies their spot atop the ECHL with 49 points, one clear of the Toledo Walleye.
If you blinked, you missed virtually all of the offense in the opening frame. At 7:50, Kameron Kielly got the Stingrays on the board first in transition when he crossed into the Greenville zone, cut from left to the high slot, and rifled a shot past Swamp Rabbits net-minder Ryan Bednard to put the hosts up 1-0 (Benton Maass and Michael Kim assisted). Exactly 16 seconds later, Colton Young collected the puck in neutral ice and went two-on-one with Ben Freeman, dishing at the last possible moment. Freeman buried his shot past a sprawled Garin Bjorklund in net for South Carolina to square the game at 1-1 (Young and JD Greenway assisted). If that wasn't enough, Brett Kemp pushed the Swamp Rabbits ahead 20 seconds later when he juked Bjorklund from behind the net and finished with a slam dunk to his blocker side to give the Swamp Rabbits their first lead at 2-1 with 8:26 gone by in the first (Tanner Eberle had the lone assist). Finally, 3:20 later on the second Swamp Rabbits power play, Nikita Pavlychev deflected a middle lane shot from Kemp in point blank range to double the lead to 3-1 with 8:14 remaining (Kemp and Young assisted). The Swamp Rabbits offensive intensity was apparent throughout the whole period, outshooting the Stingrays 12-4.
The final goal didn't come until the third period, but it provided even more breathing room for the visitors. With 5:54 left in the game, Carter Souch carried the puck into the Stingrays zone on the left side on a two-on-one break. Souch elected to shoot, and fired a laser past Bjorklund's blocker to extend the lead to 4-1, the game's eventual final score. The win gives the Swamp Rabbits four consecutive wins, points in five straight, and sole possession of the ECHL's top spot with 49 points.
Ryan Bednard won his third straight start dating back to New Year's Eve against Florida, stopping all but one of 25 shots on his net (10-7-0-0).
The Swamp Rabbits are back in action at home on Wednesday night, January 10th, against the Orlando Solar Bears for the first of two matchups in three nights. Puck drop for the midweek showdown is slated for 7:05 p.m. EST at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.