By: Chris Greene | Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports
The Gladiators fly into week 19 on the back of their longest ever point streak of 13 games. They face a new challenge this week, the Newfoundland Growlers of the North Division, followed by a visit from Greenville and a trip to South Carolina. Atlanta is level on points with the Norfolk Admirals and will be looking for good results this week to continue the surge up the South Division standings.
No roster changes this week, though it is worth mentioning that forward Justin MacDonald was named ECHL Player of the Week on Tuesday. He put in some huge performances last week, scoring three goals, including an overtime winner against the Stingrays, and made five assists, all in just four games. He now has 12 points in his last seven games for the Gladiators, and 32 points in 33 games this season. His Player of the Week award was fully deserved.
Atlanta takes on the Newfoundland Growlers on Thursday night. The game was originally scheduled for Wednesday but was delayed due to bad weather. It is the Growlers inaugural season in the ECHL, and they have been impressive so far. They currently top the North Division and are the third-best team in the league heading into the game. Newfoundland will be the first non-divisional opponent the Glads face this season, and it will be a tough test. It is a difficult game to call, but Atlanta is full of confidence and playing at home, giving them a huge advantage.
On Friday night, the Glads take on the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. Greenville snapped a long losing streak against the Gladiators last week with an overtime win. Atlanta will be desperate for revenge. There is always high intensity when these two rivals play each other, but the Gladiators should be confident heading into this one.
The Glads will finish the week with a trip to South Carolina. They beat the Stingrays twice last week, though both games went to overtime. In fact, five of the games between these two teams this season have gone to overtime. It is almost always a close game, home ice will be an advantage for the Stingrays, but Atlanta knows they can win in South Carolina. This will be a close one, but the Glads will be the favorites.
This Week’s Gladiators To Watch:
Justin MacDonald: It would be hard not to include the ECHL Player of the Week in this list. His performances last week were immense and he’s been in impressive form for some time now. If he maintains this level of production then the AHL could come calling, he is that good. Definitely, one to watch this week.
Nolan LaPorte: The third-year forward finds his place on this list for the second week in a row. With four goals in four games last week, how could he not? He has scored some big goals for Atlanta this season and that is likely to continue. Keep an eye on him this week.
Sean Bonar: The goaltender has been the backbone of Atlanta’s revival. Arguably the most consistent player on the team since the new year, he’s been nothing short of brilliant. He won a pile of awards in January and is set to do the same this month. Very dependable and fun to watch.