JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Colton Young notched the game-winning goal twice in as many nights and, bolstered by Luke Richardson's gem in between the pipes, helped the Greenville Swamp Rabbits grind out a 2-1 road victory over the Jacksonville Icemen on Saturday night from VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. The win vaults the Swamp Rabbits to a 26-10-1-0 record and an Eastern Conference-leading 53 points heading into the ECHL's All-Star Break.
For a second straight night, the Swamp Rabbits opened the scoring entries, utilizing red-hot special teams head-to-head against the Icemen. At 8:45 of the first Nikita Pavlychev redirected a Carter Souch pass in point blank range of the net past Icemen goalie Michael Houser, giving the Swamp Rabbits an early 1-0 lead (Souch and Brannon McManus assisted). Swamp Rabbits net-minder Luke Richardson stopped all 7 shots he faced in the opening 20 minutes.
Not to be outdone, Jacksonville fired back on their first power play of the game that carried over into the start of the second frame. Just 1:06 into the middle act, Christopher Brown rimmed a pass to Jacob Panetta at the blue line from behind the Swamp Rabbits net. Panetta walked into the top of the left circle a fired a wrist shot past Richardson to square the game at 1-1 (Brown and Riley Fiddler-Schultz assisted). Towards the midway point of the frame, Greenville jumped back out on top and never looked back. With 9:10 remaining in the second, Lordanthony Grissom was sprung on a breakaway by Brannon McManus, who identified him sneaking behind the defense. Grissom's intital break was denied by Houser, but Colton Young pocketed the loose change to put the Swamp Rabbits ahead for a second a final time, 2-1 (Grissom and McManus assisted).
Richardson and the Swamp Rabbits defense earned the win in the final frame, weathering quite the storm in the latter half of the third. Nikita Pavlychev was dinged with a double-minor for highsticking with 7:36 remaining, which was expertly killed off by the Swamp Rabbits. Houser was pulled from the Icemen net with 2:30 left in regulation, giving Jacksonville a boost to hammer the Greenville net. Richardson stopped all 15 shots in the period and powered through the offensive onslaught, leading the Swamp Rabbits to their 2-1 victory.
Luke Richardson stopped all but one of 33 shots on his net in the start (4-0-1-0). In seven appearances this year, Richardson remains undefeated in 60 minutes.
After tghe All-Star Break, the Swamp Rabbits go back to work against the in-state rival South Carolina Stingrays on Friday, January 19th. Puck drop at North Charleston Coliseum is slated for 7:05 p.m. EST.