TOSTI: Two-Goal Night from Caleb Herbert Not Enough Against Stingrays
BY: Brian Tosti, Greenville Swamp Rabbits
Greenville, SC – The Greenville Swamp Rabbits (23-39-7-1), proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, net a pair of goals against the South Carolina Stingrays (46-16-7-1), but it was not enough to top the second-ranked team in the Eastern Conference. Caleb Herbert net both of the Swamp Rabbits goals in the evening in his return from the AHL. The teams will face off for the final time this season tomorrow night at 7 p.m.
South Carolina tested Chris Nell in goal early on in the game, flinging pucks toward the crease from all over the ice. Their work paid off with a goal less than three minutes into the game. Dylan Margonari fired a long shot from the high slot off on the right pad of Nell and the rebound found the stick of Mason Mitchell in the right circle. The winger launched a shot into the open cage, netting his third goal in four games with the Stingrays to open the scoring.
Greenville turned up the chances after the intermission but the Stingrays were able to extend the lead on a strange rolling puck that came into the high slot in the second period. The Stingrays dumped the puck into the zone and it bounced from the right wing right into the top of the circle. As it rolled through the Swamp Rabbits defense, captain Joe Devin broke in and jammed the loose puck toward the net, beating Nell through the five-hole.
The power play tally put space between the clubs and was extended one minute later. Andrew DeBrincat was the beneficiary of a clean faceoff win by the Stingrays at the blue-line. The rookie defenseman net his first goal on a long shot that navigated through traffic to put the Stingrays up 3-0 over Greenville.
Swamp Rabbits leading scorer answered the bell for Greenville in the following two minutes. Wade Murphy began the play, coming right off the bench into the offensive zone and swiping the puck off the boards. The forward pushed the puck to the slot for Herbert who hammered at the loose change and fired it past Parker Milner in goal to halt the Stingrays streak.
In the third period, the Stingrays made it 4-1 with a power-play goal. Mitchell nets his second of the game by battling for a loose puck atop the crease. The winger again collected a rebound after Margonari fired a shot from the blue line, earning his fourth goal in four games with South Carolina at 8:41. South Carolina ended the night 2-for-4 on the power play.
Again, Herbert responded for the Swamp Rabbits to score his team-leading 22nd goal of the season. Less than two minutes after the Stingrays extended the lead, the Bloomington, Minnesota native collected a drop pass from Johno May and outlasted Milner in net, firing a shot past the netminder’s blocker.
Despite the push from Herbert and a late Greenville power play, the Stingrays held on for the win, netting an empty net goal in the final 70 seconds of the game. Tommy Hughes tallied the shorthanded goal to end the game.
Nell ended the contest with 30 saves on 34 shots on net while Milner collected his 27th victory of the season with 18 stops.