Duluth, GA – The Greenville Swamp Rabbits, proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, came out flying in the final period of tonight’s preseason opener against the Atlanta Gladiators. The Swamp Rabbits rattled off three goals in the final period, including a pair of power play goals, to cap off a 4-3 come-from-behind win. Caleb Herbert netted a pair of goals in the game while three others added multi-point efforts in the victory.
The Gladiators scored early in the contest to take the advantage. Returning forward Thomas Frazee opened up the preseason a little over two minutes into the game. Just a small poke check puck put the rubber on Frazee’s tape in the slot. His shot found the back of the net to give the Gladiators the lead immediately following a Swamp Rabbits penalty kill.
Greenville caught their break about nine minutes later. Herbert showed off his explosive skating and ability to finish, splitting the defensemen for a breakaway. Nick Betz tossed the puck from the defensive zone to Herbert who cruised in on goaltender Matt Ginn. His shot from the low slot beat Ginn on the glove side, catching a piece of the cross bar before crossing the goal line.
A goal and a penalty would be all that hit the score sheet in the second period. The Gladiators capitalized off a chance down low to take a 2-1 advantage. Alex Gacek was able to tuck the puck just under the cross bar from the right side of the net.
Greenville’s first power play of the game spawned some offensive flow and a few great scoring chances. Brenden Kotyk launched a breakaway chance for Betz late in the period, but Ginn came up with a glove save to deny the second year forward. Likewise Brandon Halverson stuffed Gacek on breakaway chance in the final minute of the period.
Halverson and Ginn would be the stars of the game through two periods, making 20 and 19 saves respectively. Ginn would finish the night for Atlanta, but Greg Dodds came in for to start the third period.
Rookie defenseman Sean Flanagan put his shot to work to start the third period. Less than three minutes in, he sailed a shot into the net from the blue line to once again tie the game. Greenville was ferocious in the minutes following the goal, pressuring Ginn with shot after shot, but Atlanta was able to regain the lead. Chase Witala would tally for the Gladiators, connecting with his former teammate in Orlando, Ben Danford.
Late penalties would take their toll on Atlanta as Greenville finished the game with two power play tallies. Joe Houk ripped a shot from the blue line hard enough to squeak through Ginn’s body. Betz swatted the loose puck into the net from the crease to tie the game at three with just over ten minutes to play.
Greenville went back on the power play with six minutes left in the game and it didn’t take long to find the back of the net. Off the ensuing faceoff, Herbert unloaded a huge slap shot from the left point to beat the netminder just inside the left post. Houk and Joe Basaraba would record assists on the eventual game-winning goal that took only nine seconds off the power play.
Dodds took the win with nine saves in the final period, while Ginn ended the contest with 27 stops. Greenville went 2-for-3 on the power play, while also ending the game 3-for-3 on the penalty kill.