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MARK MY WORDS – FEBRUARY 15th

Thursday, February 15th
MARK MY WORDS – FEBRUARY 15th

It’s time for another edition of “’Mark’ My Words”, where Swamp Rabbits Broadcaster Mark Binetti dives into his thoughts on the Swamp Rabbits, the world of hockey, and sometimes everything in between!

Today, he recaps, dealing with adversity, playing abroad, some of your favorite Swamp Rabbits players, and why hockey’s playoff tradition is simply the best:

  1. It was unfortunate to see the Swamp Rabbits only come out with one point against the Newfoundland Growlers last week. Nonetheless, there’s always room to grow and learn, regardless of wins or losses, and I know Coach Lord and Coach Mountain will have the team prepared for this upcoming weekend ahead against a pair of South Division rivals. Response has been kind to the Swamp Rabbits most of this year: Coach Lord and Coach Mountain have led the team to a 10-4-1-0 mark following the previous 15 losses on the season. The fact that this is only the third time this year that the Swamp Rabbits have fallen in consecutive games is wild and showcases the consistency of winning the team has earned and enjoyed this year. I’m excited to see how the Swamp Rabbits get back on track this upcoming weekend, especially with a full week to prepare at home.
  2. Based on the above, I said on the air last week that I have seen flashes from these Swamp Rabbits of the year I worked with the AHL’s Stockton Heat in 2021-22. The Heat didn’t lose consecutive games until March…and even then, they only lost consecutively three times in the regular season. In fact, the team’s longest losing streak that year came in the Western Conference Finals against the Chicago Wolves when they dropped the first three of that series before rallying for back-to-back OT wins at home. While the Wolves won Game 6 and eventually the Calder Cup, the tenacity of the Heat leading up to the playoffs was incredibly impressive, and I see much of the same, maybe even more, from this year’s Greenville squad. 
  3. Traveling up to St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, was a hike, but once we got there, it was awesome to take in the culture of a city that almost all of us (with the exception of Jacob Modry) had never been too, even Canadian natives on our team. There’s a great deal of Irish influence and heritage in the area, which as someone who’s half-Irish myself, was great to see. St. John’s also has a rich hockey history: not only did the Growlers win the Kelly Cup in their inaugural 2018-19 season, but the city has had hockey dating back to its AHL years as the St. John’s IceCaps, affiliated with the Winnipeg Jets and Montreal Canadiens, and the St. John’s Maple Leafs, affiliated with the…well…the Toronto Maple Leafs. 
  4. It might not seem like a big deal to most people, but I’ve always considered it an immense privilege to broadcast hockey games in Canada. Seeing the sport played in the country it originated in, and seeing the locals so ravenous in watching it, has always stood out so poignantly to me. It’s also a great time when two of my favorite pieces of music ever written are performed back-to-back in the Canadian and American national anthems prior to puck drop. 
  5. JD Greenway is arguably one of the best athletes on this team. JD has a unique skillset in that he can play both the forward and defense positions seamlessly, and was once again called upon to do just that in Saturday’s finale against the Growlers. When Mark Louis went out of the game with a second period injury, Greenway spent shifts at both forward and defense and not once looked gassed or out of place. Coach Lord has consistently praised not just his commitment to his craft, but most importantly his commitment to the culture that is the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. He continues to grow and put this team in position to succeed and has been a real treat to watch.
  6. You can call me biased if you want (you’re probably right), but after watching the end of the Super Bowl on Sunday, I was once again reminded about how hockey is just above everything else with respect to the gentlemanly conduct and how they handle the champions of a sport. Two observations to point out:
    1. At the end of the Super Bowl, it’s a madhouse, and rightfully so: confetti, paparazzi, postgame interviews, families running down to celebrate…it’s chaos. What I never liked is how selective the handshakes after the game were. The quarterbacks and coaches run up to each other and maybe a few other players…and that’s it. The rest of the losing team just walks off the field, and the victors start the party of their lives. One of my favorite traditions of hockey, win or lose, is the handshake line at the end of a series. Each player and member of the coaching staff and support staff ice level goes out onto the ice and shakes hands with everyone on the other side before the real festivities begin, which I felt always stood out as a recognition on both the winning and losing side of what sacrifice it took to get to that particular point in the playoffs. There’s no maybe shaking someone’s hand. EVERYONE congratulates everyone, regardless of outcome, on a hard-fought series.
    2. Probably the most elite thing hockey does is with its trophy. When you watch MLB, NBA, or the NFL, the first person to get the championship trophy is the owner, where in hockey, the Captain is the first person to touch the championship trophy, followed by his teammates. The only other sport to replicate this is soccer. I’m not saying the owner isn’t important, but I never liked the thought of someone who was in an air conditioned and all-inclusive suite not sacrificing his/her body on the playing surface to be the first one to hold the trophy earned by the actual competitors in their sport. I really hope other major league sports in North America realize that and let the Captain, and subsequently his teammates, be the first to touch their trophy before executives.
  7. The last time the Swamp Rabbits played the South Carolina Stingrays, their in-state rival was coming in with five consecutive wins. The Swamp Rabbits ended that streak in electric fashion with Max Martin’s buzzer-beater in regulation, but the Stingrays haven’t slowed down: they won another four straight following that defeat and recently lost in a shootout against Savannah last Saturday, which means they’ve won 9 of their last 11 games and earned points in 10. This is right around that time where teams start to get scorching red hot or go ice cold in pursuit of the playoffs, so I’m excited to see how the Swamp Rabbits rise to this challenge.
  8. Atlanta comes in on the completely opposite side, entering the weekend with six consecutive losses, but that is no reason to take this opponent lightly. Their power play still clicks over 20%, and while their penalty kill might not be near the top, they’re tied for third in the ECHL with 7 shorthanded goals. Add in the fact that it’s a home-and-home on Saturday and Sunday with travel and an earlier puck drop on Sunday makes it a challenging pair of games, regardless of how good/bad/indifferent a team is. 

I hope you’ll join us for “Outdoors Night”, presented by AB Tree, and “Star Wars Night”, presented by Champion Comfort Experts featuring a lightsaber giveaway, this weekend. Two great theme nights against two tough opponents should make for an even better weekend.

If you have any questions on hockey, sports, or any subject under the sun that you think I can answer, make sure to tweet me (@BinettiPxP), or shoot an email to the Swamp Rabbits at info@swamprabbits.com, with the subject line: “Mark” My Words. I’ll do my best to answer any compelling questions that come our way, and maybe even air them on our broadcasts throughout the season. 

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