Rabbits Series Lead Dashed by Stingrays
South Division Semifinal series tied at 2-2 as home teams continue to shine between Greenville and South Carolina.
BY: Brian Tosti, Greenville Swamp Rabbits
North Charleston, SC – The Greenville Swamp Rabbits, proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, fell 6-1 tonight against the South Carolina Stingrays on the road in Game 4 of the South Division Semifinal. Following wins at home in Games 1 and 2, the Stingrays matched Greenville’s series lead. Each home team has owned the games. Through 240 minutes of gameplay through four games, the away team has not held the lead.
In all four games this series, the home team has jumped out to a 2-0 advantage in the first period. Tonight was no different as the Stingrays recorded a pair of goals in the first seven minutes of play. Patrick Gaul tallied the opening goal in the game for his second goal of the playoffs. Late on the ‘Rays first power play, Rob Flick walked in for a hard shot, and the rebound was batted in by the winger at 3:45. Wade Epp launched a blast from the left hash marks three minutes later that found the net.
Kelly Zajac netted South Carolina’s third tally of the contest with his second goal of the playoffs. On the only Stingray power play in the second period, Zajac batted the puck into the net, off a rebound of his first shot in the slot.
Greenville peppered shot opportunities onto the net with quality shots in the first and second periods, but Parker Milner continued to stand tall at the North Charleston Coliseum and would keep Greenville at bay for 40 minutes of the game. The netminder would eventually collect the win with 36 saves.
Greenville netminder Mackenzie Skapski settled into the game after South Carolina’s hot start. During the first and second periods, the goaltender made a flurry of saves for the Swamp Rabbits in his Kelly Cup Playoffs debut. Skapski made 25 saves with two goals against coming on the power play through the first 40 minutes of action.
Early in the third period, John Parker came down the ice to score his first playoff goal and extend the Stingrays lead to 4-0. On an odd-man rush, Steven McParland dropped the puck off to the rookie for a quick shot in the slot. It just trickled through the pads of Skapski before finding the net a minute into the third period
Greenville came down the ice to score the only goal of the game. Joe Houk got a pass from Ahti Oksanen from the corner. The defenseman stepped into the slot and rifled a shot off the left post and into the net. The goal stopped Milner’s bid for a shutout with 12 minutes still left to play.
Zajac’s second of the game was deflected in from the goal line as the Stingrays responded for a 5-1 lead with 10:58 left to play. Finally, South Carolina grabbed a late turnover to feed Flick with the final tally of the game. After Skapski had made a sprawling save, the Stingrays centered a pass for the Stingrays leading goal scorer.
The Swamp Rabbits were scoreless on the power play on five opportunities and despite outshooting South Carolina 37-35, fell short of breaking the home ice trend in the series.
Greenville retakes the ice at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena on Friday night at 7 p.m. The Swamp Rabbits outscored the Stingrays 10-4 in the first two home games and returned with the mission of recapturing the series lead. Greenville earned a 22-10-3-1 record on the Sandlapper Securities Rink during the regular season.
ROUND 1 | GAME 5 | FRIDAY, APRIL 21 | 7:00 PM
The Swamp Rabbits return for another playoff game at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena and need your help to #KeepStomping. Score big with a Bon Secours Family Fun Pack and get four tickets, four meals and two Swamp Rabbits lunch bags for only $60. Head to SwampRabbits.com for tickets.
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