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SOUCH’S FOUR-POINT NIGHT POWERS SWAMP RABBITS TO WILD WIN

Friday, March 22nd
SOUCH’S FOUR-POINT NIGHT POWERS SWAMP RABBITS TO WILD WIN

JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Carter Souch potted a hat trick and an assist, Ben Freeman dished out three helpers, and Tanner Eberle provided an assist and the eventual game-winning strike to lead the Greenville Swamp Rabbits to a wild 5-4 victory over the Jacksonville Icemen on Friday night. With the win, the Swamp Rabbits end a three-game skid and knock their “magic number” to clinch a playoff spot down to eight with 10 games remaining in the season.

Trying to shake off back-to-back shutout losses, the Swamp Rabbits jumped on the board early into the game. Just 78 seconds in, Ben Freeman launched a “Hail Mary” pass to Carter Souch, who finished with a laser from the left that whizzed by Jacksonville goalie Joe Murdaca, giving the Swamp Rabbits an early 1-0 lead (Freeman had the lone assist). Moments later, Matheson Iacopelli tied the game when a puck fortuitously bounced to him in the high slot. He buried a back-hander past Swamp Rabbits net-minder Ryan Bednard, tying the game at 1-1 at 6:27 of the first. Souch broke the deadlock with his second of the game before the period ended, taking advantage of a turnover forced by Tanner Eberle behind the net, finishing with a forehand wrap around to give the Swamp Rabbits a 2-1 lead with 2:25 left in the first (Eberle had the lone assist).

Both teams continued to exchange tallies in the second period, with Souch again opening up the frame’s scoring. At 5:12 of the second, Ben Freeman forced a neutral zone turnover and advanced the puck for Brett Kemp, who located Souch on the left side of the zone. Souch uncorked a laser past Murdaca to push Greenville’s lead to 3-1, registering the first hat trick for a Swamp Rabbits player this season (Kemp and Freeman assisted). With 6:50 left in the period, Matheson Iacopelli was awarded a penalty shot, which he buried to make it a 3-2 hockey game. Shortly after, Bobby Russell restored the two-goal lead when he deflected a shot from Jake Flynn, making his professional debut, past Murdaca in the high slot to give the Swamp Rabbits a 4-2 advantage with 3:51 left in the second (Flynn earned his first professional point, while Nick Prkusic picked up the second helper). Not to be outdone, Garret Van Whye brought the Icemen back within one 18 seconds later, driving towards the net and deflecting the puck past Bednard to make it 4-3 Greenville (Luc Brown and Dominick Mersch assisted). With the final say in the period, Tanner Eberle pounced on a loose puck created by a Ben Freeman shot, also taking advantage of a Jacksonville defender taking Murdaca out of the play. Eberle’s goal, the eventual game-winner, made it 5-3 Swamp Rabbits with 2:05 remaining in the second (Freeman and Souch assisted).

Jacksonville struck early in the final stanza, but couldn’t locate a tying tally after. Just 2:18 into the third, Matheson Iacopelli buried a rebound created on the left side of the net, firing his shot through traffic past Bednard to close the gap to 5-4 (Van Whye and Logan Cockerill assisted). The Swamp Rabbits held on after, and weathered an extra-attacker situation, riding stingy third period defense to a 5-4 victory.

Ryan Bednard stopped 38 of 42 shots, earning the victory in the full 60 minutes of action (19-10-0-0)

The Swamp Rabbits rematch the Icemen tomorrow night to close out their weekend and their head-to-head series against the Icemen. Puck drop for tomorrow, Saturday, March 23rd, is slated for 7:00 p.m. EST at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena.

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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.

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