So there’s this thing in Greenville, it’s called the Swamp Rabbit Trail. It’s more than a thing, actually, as the 20 mile greenway following the Reedy river here in the Upstate has triggered the rebirth of an entire town (Travelers Rest), and spawned multiple businesses and even a sports team that want to share in the glory of a marsh rabbit. The SRT is a model we’ve seen work countless times across the US, of transforming a former rail line into a community resource; the phenomenon is common enough that top ten lists of the best rail trails are appearing, such as this one in Travel + Leisure. (When thinking of a similar success story, the High Line in NYC comes to mind despite the differences in use, as it is primary for foot traffic while the SRT is for bicycles and pedestrians.) I’ve previously written a little about the history and a small portion of the trail in my post The Swamp Rabbit: from the Falls to Cleveland Park, and about some of the businesses that have popped up around the greenway such as Swamp Rabbit Grocery and the Swamp Rabbit Brewery and Taproom. However, the most recent Swamp Rabbits in Greenville are a hockey team!
The Swamp Rabbits are the second East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) franchise to play in Greenville, the Greenville Grrrowl being our hometown team from 1998 to 2006. After four years without a hockey team the Johnstown Chiefs were relocated to Greenville in 2010, becoming the Greenville Road Warriors until they were rebranded last year.
Being a relocated Yankee, I get more excited about hockey than I do about NASCAR. Although the closest I’ve ever gotten to playing were my years as the Baltic Club’s broomball goalie at UIUC (which isn’t very close!), I had thought to take the boys to a game last season, especially as the boys were owners of Road Warrior Jerseys through the franchise’s participation in the LiveWell Greenville Park Hop. Mikus can be sensitive to the noise of large crowds and so we didn’t make it – however I wasn’t ready to let another entire season pass without catching a game!
The 2015-2016 promotional schedule is pretty impressive. We opted to attend on the night they gave away jerseys to all the kids, and although Star Wars night and the cap giveaway are in the past, there are still over a dozen games to attend including scout night and $5 ticket Thursdays.
Among the 28 teams in the ECHL our Swamp Rabbits are in the South division along with the Florida Everblades, the Atlanta Gladiators, The South Carolina Stingrays (North Charleston) and the Orlando Solar Bears, the opponent on the night we attended. It was a close game, decided in overtime after a nail-biting third period.
I was blown away when I looked at the roster; the Swamp Rabbits have an international team with Canadians, Russians, Finns and Czechs playing alongside Americans. Currently 27 year old Jack Combs from St. Louis, MO is leading the stats with 15 goals, and although we’re #4 in the standings, we still have a couple of months left in the first season!
|Local blogger (and sons) on the jumbotron!|
The Greenville Swamp Rabbits are affiliated with the NY Rangers of the NHL and the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL. You can catch their home games at "The Well" (Bon Secours Wellness Arena, schedule here) and see the team stats here.