GREENVILLE, S.C. – Max Martin fired home a pair of goals in his return from the AHL, the last one beating the buzzer with 0.2 seconds left to lift the Greenville Swamp Rabbits to a 3-2 win over the South Carolina Stingrays on Friday night. The win gives the Swamp Rabbits (31-11-1-0, 63pts) their fourth consecutive win dating back to January 21st, and their fourth straight win against the Stingrays head-to-head as far back as January 5th.
Martin got things started for the Swamp Rabbits in the opening frame, providing the only goal of the first period. With 5:19 gone by, the puck squeaked to Martin inside the attacking blue line, and he rifled a shot through traffic past Stingrays goalie Mitchell Gibson to put the Swamp Rabbits ahead 1-0 (the goal was unassisted). Ryan Bednard, Swamp Rabbits net-minder and reigning Warrior Hockey ECHL Goaltender of the Month, stopped all eight shots he saw in the opening 20 minutes.
The Swamp Rabbits maintained their lead for quite an extended period of time, until the Stingrays tied the game in the final seconds of the second period. With 39.5 seconds remaining, Nick Leivermann took a neutral zone pass from Ivan Lodnia, streaked down the middle lane, and fired a shot from between the hashmarks by Bednard to square the game at 1-1 (Lodnia had the lone helper).
The Swamp Rabbits took the lead back in the early stages of the third frame, but the final seconds proved chaotic despite the early marker. With 3:08 played in the final period, and on their second power play of the game, Nikita Pavlychev fired a pass from the left wing in transition that was deflected and bounced right to Josh McKechney’s tape. McKechney fired a laser past Gibson in the high slot almost immediately to re-establish Greenville’s lead at 2-1 (Pavlychev and Souch assisted). South Carolina, desperate to tie the game late, pulled Gibson for the extra-attacker, and the gamble paid off. With 17 seconds remaining, Jonny Evans sent a quick trigger shot from the right wing faceoff circle that deflected off of Jack Adams in point blank range of Bednard and in, leveling the game at 2-2 (Evans and Nick Leivermann assisted). Overtime looked imminent, but the Swamp Rabbits got control in the offensive zone late and Max Martin provided chaotic heroics before the buzzer. With 0.2 seconds remaining, Anthony Beauchamp deflected the puck to Max Martin, sitting once again inside the blue line of the attacking third. Martin let a shot rip through a sea of humanity that whizzed by Gibson and in. After review, the goal call on the ice was confirmed, and the Swamp Rabbits got the win at the buzzer, 3-2.
Ryan Bednard won his fifth straight start, stopping 32 of 34 shots on net (15-8-0-0). The Swamp Rabbits have now won four straight dating back to January 21st against Jacksonville, and 11 of their last 13 as far back as New Year’s Eve against Florida.
The Swamp Rabbits stay home for their second of a “three-in-three”, as well as their second of three different opponents with the Jacksonville Icemen coming back to town. Puck drop for tomorrow, February 3rd, is slated for 7:05 p.m. at Bon Secours Wellness Arena. Saturday’s game is “Stick it to Cancer” Night, presented by Bon Secours, with the Swamp Rabbits wearing specialty jerseys that will be auctioned off following the game. Auction proceeds will benefit the Bon Secours St. Francis Foundation.
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.