By: Chris Greene | Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports
The Gladiators win streak came to an end against the Orlando Solar Bears last week, but they have earned 11 points from their last six games. The team’s attention now turns to week 17 and three tough games against divisional rivals; Greenville, Florida and Orlando. The Gladiators are in their best form of the season and have done well to close the gap in the South Division standings. The Glads next challenge is to start climbing up the table.
The big story from Atlanta this week was the trade that sent defenseman Ben Danford to the Toledo Walleye in exchange for forward Daniel Leavens and defenseman Samuel Thibault. The Gladiators then sent Thibault to the Indy Fuel to complete the trade for forward Avery Peterson. Glads fans will be sad to see Danford leave, but they got two very good players in return. Peterson has already found the net for the Glads and Leavens has 78 points in 103 career ECHL games. Both players add significant fire power to the roster, which boasts a lot more talent now then it did at the start of the season. Ultimately, this is a hockey trade, one that will benefit the Gladiators as they look to climb up the standings. In other roster news, defensemen Jake Flegal and Vytal Cote have both been placed on reserve.
The first opponents of the week are the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, who have had a rough spell lately. They have lost eight games in a row and the Gladiators are now level on points with them. Atlanta will be looking for a strong result in this contest, having won the last two games between the teams. Expect the Glads to win this one.
On Thursday night the Gladiators face a tough test against league leaders, the Florida Everblades. The ‘Blades have had Atlanta’s number for a while now, but the Gladiators can take some comfort from the win against them just after new year. It seems a long time ago but the Glads have gone 5-1-1 since that victory. It is never an easy game against Florida, but Atlanta is capable of causing an upset in this game.
The Gladiators will take on the Orlando Solar Bears in the third and final game of week 17. The overtime loss last weekend will be fresh in their memories and Atlanta will be desperate for revenge. There is no doubt they were the better team in that game, but they could not get the job done. The Solar Bears play a very physical game, as a result they spend a lot of time on the penalty kill, which they are very good at. Atlanta has to be more productive on the power play, if they are, they will snatch two points in this one.
This Week’s Gladiators To Watch:
Derek Nesbitt: While his production slowed last week, he still contributed an important assist. He remains the Glads top scorer this season and has been very consistent. Expect him to contribute more this week with three big games, the stage is set for the veteran forward to lead his team to victory.
Sean Bonar: The goaltender is 7-0-1 in his last eight starts. He has been incredible in recent weeks. It is no coincidence that his strong performances and Atlanta’s point streak go hand in hand. Bonar has been there every time the Glads need him, he is on fire right now.
Avery Peterson: He scored his first goal for Atlanta against the Solar Bears last week and he will be looking to add to his account during the next three games. The Grand Rapids, MN native has come to Atlanta with bags of potential. He is certainly one to watch this week.