ECHL: Icemen Take 3-2 Lead in Kelly Cup Series; Everblades Bounce Back Against Stingrays

By Mike Bonts

(www.jaxsportsday.com)  A four-goal second period was too much for the Greenville Swamp Rabbits to overcome, as they fell 5-4 to the Jacksonville Icemen in Game 5 of the South Division Semifinals on Saturday night at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.

Greenville started the game with the opening goal of the game just 4:03 into the first period, as Miles Gendron fed the puck to Nikita Pavlychev who scored his second of the series. 

At 8:33, Ben Freeman shot the puck from the wing and beat Jacksonville's Charles Williams for the 2-0 lead. Williams would leave the game after allowing two goals on six shots and was replace with Olof Lindbom. Jacksonville stopped the Swamp Rabbits momentum with a Luke Lynch goal at 15:14.

In the second, Craig Martin scored on a breakaway, tying the game for Jacksonville at 4:34. At 6:49, Jacksonville captured the lead as Ara Nazarian scored, before Matt Iacopelli scored 60 second later to extend the Jacksonville lead. Brandon Fortunato scored a goal at 17:59 to give Jacksonville the 5-2 advantage. 

Greenville's offense responded in the third period, as Freeman sniped his second of the game into the Jacksonville net at 9:39. The Swamp Rabbits pulled within a goal as Carter Souch scored at 12:57. Despite a late 6-on-5 scenario, the Swamp Rabbits failed to find the tying goal at the final horn.

Greenville's loss see the Swamp Rabbits fall behind in the best-of-seven, South Division Semifinal 3-2 to the Icemen. 

The Swamp Rabbits and the Icemen meet again at the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville on Tuesday, May 2, for a 7 p.m. meeting in Game 6.

STINGRAYS FALL IN GAME 5; SETS UP MUST-WIN ON MONDAY

 The South Carolina Stingrays fell to the Florida Everblades by a final score of 4-0 on Saturday night at Hertz Arena. With the loss, the Stingrays now trail the series 3-2 and return home on Monday in a must-win scenario.

The Everblades kicked off the scoring midway through the opening stanza as Blake Winiecki netted his first goal of the postseason. Winiecki received a pass between the circles and flung a shot past the glove of Clay Stevenson for the 1-0 lead on the lone goal of the first frame.

Joe Pendenza doubled the Florida advantage late in the second period as he lifted a shot over the glove of Stevenson while on the power play.

Florida took a 3-0 lead at the 8:24 mark of the final frame as Logan Lambdin redirected a shot past Stevenson for the deflection tally on the man advantage.

Winiecki iced the game on his second marker of the contest with 2:22 remaining in regulation as the Everblades concluded a 4-0 shutout behind 35 saves from Cam Johnson between the pipes.

The Stingrays return to the North Charleston Coliseum for a do-or-die Game 6 of the 2023 Kelly Cup Playoffs against the Florida Everblades on Monday, May 1st at 7:05 p.m.

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