By: Chris Greene | Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports
Thanks to the holiday schedule it’s been a week since the Atlanta Gladiators’ last competitive game. The break could not have come at a better time for the Glads, who sit in last place in the south division with an underwhelming 5-9-2 record. Currently 25th in the ECHL league standings, the boys have a lot of work ahead of them if they wish to achieve the playoff aspirations they expressed in the preseason. The Glads have a great chance to build some momentum following the Thanksgiving break as they take on the Greenville Swamp Rabbits twice this week.
A big blow for the Gladiators will be the departure of forward Garret Ross, who was called up by the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL. Ross had been in great form for the Glads recently and certainly deserves the promotion, Atlanta’s loss is Milwaukee’s gain. The Admirals also briefly recalled forward Alex Overhardt, though he is back with the Gladiators and eligible to play in this weekend. On a more positive note, the Glads have signed forward David Mazurek who’s been added to the current roster in time for this weekends action. The 26-year-old joins from the Fayetteville Marksmen of the SPHL and has 15 points in 13 games so far this season. He joins the team in good form. Hopefully, he can maintain that as he starts his ECHL career.
The first game against Greenville will be on Friday night at the Infinite Energy Arena with the rematch taking place at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena on Saturday night. The two sides have played each other three times so far this season, with the Gladiators leading the head-to-head series 2-1. The two teams last played the night before Thanksgiving. After entering the game in terrible form, Atlanta dominated the first two periods through the Swamp Rabbits took their chances and punished every mistake, keeping the game close. The Gladiators managed to hold on for a tense overtime win, their first win in five games. Coach Pyle’s men will be under less pressure this week after their recent win. If they can play with more confidence and luck is on their side, I think they’re capable of 3, possibly even 4 points this weekend which would be a massive boost to the team. Greenville sit three points above the Gladiators in the south division, but they’ve played five more games. There’s no question that the Gladiators are better than their position in the standings suggests, but they’re running out of time to prove it.
This Week’s Gladiators To Watch:
Branden Troock: Back in the goals last week after a spell out due to injury, the forward is red-hot this season with 10 points in 11 games so far this season. He’s already scored against his former team this season and would certainly enjoy adding to that tally this weekend. You can definitely expect fireworks from him during the next two games.
Zach Malatesta: The defenseman notched up a goal and an assist the last time these two teams met, playing with some real offensive intent late in the game. The second-year pro brings a huge physical presence and can be a handful when he bursts forward, he’s certainly worth keeping an eye on this week.
Jesse Gabrielle: With eight points in his last nine games, the Boston Bruins prospect has been on fire for the Gladiators recently. His production has been stellar so far, and he’s been very consistent in a team that’s seen a lot of changes amongst the forwards. It’s nice to see the youngster stepping up if he maintains this pace, he’s certainly going to give the Bruins organization something to think about.