By: Chris Greene | Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports
It was another difficult week for the injury-ravaged Atlanta Gladiators, after three more defeats, their winless run has extended to nine games. Despite missing a number of important players, the Glads fought bravely and were able to pick up 2 points from the road trip, coming agonizingly close to a win. After 24 games played, their record stands at 5-13-5-1, and they remain at the bottom of the South Division.
On Wednesday night, the Gladiators traveled to South Carolina to take on the Stingrays. It was the third game between the two teams in just five days. Sean Bonar was given the start between the pipes for Atlanta and looked confident in the early stages. The game remained scoreless until Cameron Askew put the Stingrays ahead mid-way through the second period. Andrew Cherniwchan doubled South Carolina’s lead just 12 seconds into the third frame and the Gladiators were staring down the familiar barrel of defeat. That was until Tyler Deresky wrestled Atlanta level with two fantastic goals, taking the game into overtime and securing a much-needed point for the Gladiators. Both teams were unable to add to the score, sending the game to a shootout. After a valiant display, the Glads fell 2-1 in the shootout. The team fought hard with many skaters playing out of position to cover injuries.
The Gladiators faced the Jacksonville Icemen on Friday night for the second game of the road trip. Colton Phinney was given the start in goal and was tested early on. He was eventually beaten when Kris Newbury put the Icemen ahead with a power-play goal. The first period ended 1-0 to Jacksonville. At the start of the second, Glads forward David Mazurek pounced on a mistake from Icemen netminder, Tanner Jaillet, and tied the score at 1-1. The rest of the contest was uneventful for the most part, and for the second game in a row, overtime was required to decide the winner. Kris Newbury stepped up and doubled his tally for the night, condemning the Glads to their eighth consecutive defeat. Once again, a fine effort to secure a point considering the injury situation.
The third and final game of the week took place on Sunday afternoon at the Amway Center, as the Glads took on the Orlando Solar Bears. It was the long-awaited return of forward Justin MacDonald who was in good form before getting injured a few weeks back. Sean Bonar was given the start as both teams exchanged shots in the early stages. The Solar Bears capitalized on an ugly turnover from Atlanta, creating a two-on-one opportunity which was tucked into the net by Mitch Hults. The Glads enjoyed a nice spell of offense in the second period but they couldn’t beat Martin Ouellette in the Orlando goal. In the final minute of the second, Dylan Fritze put the Solar Bears 2-0 up and the game was as good as over. Derek Nesbitt scored in the third period to keep Atlanta’s hopes alive, but Orlando was able to hold on for the win. 2-1 the final score.
The Gladiators fought hard this week but it’s no secret that the team is suffering from injuries and AHL call-ups. The defense seems to have stepped up and it’s encouraging to see Bonar and Phinney playing well in the absence of Miroslav Svoboda. The Glads have three games in three days coming up before the Christmas break, a win will be on all of our lists for Santa, I’m certainly hoping for a Christmas miracle.