Bruins Extend Affiliation With Providence, So Is ECHL Deal Next?

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By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins came to an agreement last week on a ten-year extension with the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League. This agreement with the top minor-pro affiliate of the B’s was one that just made sense from both sides. One, geographically having prospects and others so close to areas of operations is never a bad idea for emergency purposes, and two you can’t beat the fan support and the consistently high attendance numbers when the team is playing at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island.

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The Providence Bruins have been one of the most successful franchises when it comes to minor-pro development and has been a pipeline of the NHL B’s since the 1992-93 season. Previous to last weeks agreement the Providence club has amassed a record of  1030W-782L-96T-84OTL-60SOL in 2,053 games played over 26 years as an affiliate of the parent Boston Bruins team.  Providence has seen it’s a fair share of current Boston Bruins players such as Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Jake DeBrusk, Matt Grzelcyk, and Tuukka Rask. Since the teams, inaugural season (1992-93) the Bruins have seen three regular-season titles, five division championships, one conference championship, and of course the franchise’s only Calder Cup Championship that the club captured after the 1998-99 regular season campaign.

This is not the first time a successful minor league franchise called the city of Providence home. The NHL Bruins also housed developing players of interest with a team called the Providence Reds who per HockeyDB.com had affiliations in the AHL’s inaugural campaign in 1936 to 1938 and making returns in 1958 to 1962, and for the final time from 1963-64  to the 1968-59 season. The Reds were no joke back in the day as the organization saw nine regular-season titles, 13 division championships, and four Calder Cups. Hockey Hall of Famers such as goaltender Frank Brimsek (1937 to 1939), forwards Milt Schmidt (1936-37), and Ed Westfall (1963-64).

The 2018-19 regular season for the Providence team is quickly coming to a close with six games remaining. The B’s have a 35-24-8-3 record after 70 games and sit in the fourth position in the Atlantic Division and currently occupy the seventh position when you look at the Eastern Conference and the Calder Cup Playoff outlook. The Providence club looks to secure a postseason birth for the seventh straight season after being knocked out for three consecutive years prior to the current postseason streak.

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This season has certainly been a challenging one for second-year Head Coach Jay Leach, and the AHL Bruins from key developing players departing via emergency recalls to player injuries and finding suitable replacements to fill the roster. I believe in the current path of development from an organizational standpoint, but if you ask me how deep this Providence club can go in the postseason I’d love to think they can go all the way but with the up and down the regular season I’s be certainly happy with a Conference Final. Providence visited the third round briefly during the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs losing to the eventual Conference Champions Syracuse Crunch who beat the B’s in a best of seven series 4-1.

Regardless of my personal prediction or hope for a conference final appearance the Jekyll and Hyde home vs. road playoff schedule has to get better with the regular season records on either side of the coin. As mentioned the B’s have six games remaining and have done a fantastic job on home ice thus far with a record of 27-7-4-1 but have been sub-par away from the Dunk compiling a 13-17-4-2 record. Aside from the home and road rollercoaster this season the Bruins are going to have to figure out what’s not working on the road and figure it out quickly. The Checkers have a home record of 23-6-5-0 and the way things are lined up with travel the Checkers could easily get the first two games at home with an elimination contest back at the Dunk for game three. Lets’ hope that doesn’t happen.

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Above is a playoff primer courtesy of theahl.com website. As you can see a postseason appearance for the seventh straight time is not going to be easy especially against the leagues best Charlotte Checkers who already clinched a playoff spot with a regular season record of 46-16-7-1 good for 100 points thus far. These two teams have a 2018-19 regular season series of  4-3-1 with Providence winning only twice at Bojangles Coliseum and needing more than 60 minutes to get it done. The Bruins record at home against the Checkers is actually not bad if the B’s can extend the first round series and play another home game.  Home cooking at the Dunk this season against the Charlotte club has produced a record of 2-1-1.

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What’s next for the Boston Bruins and the future plans for an ECHL affiliation?

This is a topic that I’ve been thinking about a lot and trying to crack the code of what’s going on with the decision of where this Bruins organization could place prospect if needed at the ECHL level? First and foremost I believe the Atlanta Gladiators have a fantastic franchise and a return to the state of Georgia is always a good possibility. Another option is to find a location closer to areas of operation particularly with the above mentioned Providence club and the need for a constant pipeline of players that are able to participate quickly and play at the AHL level in emergency situations.

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One area of New England that I’m paying close attention to is the city of Manchester, New Hampshire and the current dumpster fire that’s going on with the ECHL Manchester Monarchs franchise. This metro area once was one of the Northeasts best-attended venues when the AHL Monarchs were in the Queen city before the NHL’s LA Kings came and took the AHL club and ECHL club and swapped them around making the trip for prospects in a matter of hours instead of lengthy cross country travel. Since the AHL moved westward it seems like the fan base walked out with it as season ticket numbers and overall fan attendance has dwindled to what seems like 500 fans.

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As a former season ticket holder of the AHL Monarchs and personal experience gathered from a fun place to enjoy a hockey game, it’s disturbing to hear that the ECHL is just not the product for this area and if something can’t be done soon they might miss their window to gain popularity again in the New Hampshire city with so much tradition in the sport. Purely speculating here but news in January of 2019 had the ECHL Manchester Monarchs seeking for new ownership and later reports of the organization ceasing operations for the 2019-20  season.

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I know that the current agreement with the Monarchs and their affiliation with the Lod Angles kings is ongoing and seems to be in good order regardless of the ownership news but minor-pro deals are pretty much fly by night operations and walk away from deals as seen in the past from a franchise like the AHL’s Portland Pirate and their agreement with the Cross Insurance Arena. If the Kings would like to place another minor-pro franchise closer to California, this would be a tremendous time to revitalize the Manchester hockey fandom with representation from one of New England’s most popular and respected professional franchises.

Now just spitballing here but if the Bruins were to in fact be affiliated with an ECHL franchise in Manchester I’d have to believe the numbers would be better than the current product just knowing that the Bruins label would be involved. Also, a key factor is how many actual prospects would be involved as the current number of Bruins property playing with the Atlanta club is zero. This season B’s prospects Jesse Gabrielle and Joona Koppanen were the only ones to play in Atlanta as they spent a few games there at the start of the season. Gabrielle was later reassigned to play with the Wichita Thunder halfway through this season.

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With a new Collective Bargaining Agreement coming up with the players and owners going toe to toe again soon, I believe it would be wise for both to come to common ground and agree on adding 10 more contracts to the max contracts allowable which are currently set at 50 contracts. What an increased number of contracts could do in my opinion is add more spots to develop and make better use of the ECHL and the availability that NHL teams have with their Premier “AA”  affiliations. This will certainly increase development at the middle levels and could accelerate the progression of deserving players for looks and evaluating purposes. Ten extra contracts to play with would be a fantastic way to sign undrafted players worldwide and ones that just finished college and available to be signed as free agents.

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Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 25 Preview

( Photo Credit: Taylor Trebotte / gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

The race to the ECHL playoffs is almost over. With the finish line in sight, the Atlanta Gladiators face a tricky path to secure their place in the postseason. The Glads are two points behind South Carolina, who is currently in the final South Division playoff position. This week, they face Orlando at home, before three back to back road games, two against Jacksonville and one against South Carolina. Nobody said it would be easy.

The Gladiators roster was boosted by the return of defenseman Joel Messner. He was reassigned from Providence after a stint in the AHL, where he featured in 29 games. Messner was also joined in Atlanta by defenseman Filip Pyrochta and forward Zach Magwood, who return from the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals. Forward Hugo Roy has also been assigned to Atlanta by Milwaukee. To make room for the new arrivals, the Gladiators announced that forwards Jared Ross, Luke Stork, Joe Widmar, and defenseman Sean Campbell have been released from their contracts. In other news, forward Nolan LaPorte has been placed on reserve.

The Glads take on the Orlando Solar Bears in their only home game of the week. They will be desperate to avenge last weeks 5-1 defeat at the Amway Center. The Solar Bears play a physical game, and with so much on the line for Atlanta, you can expect the gloves to be dropped at some point. With this game followed by three tough road games, it will be important for the Gladiators to start this week on a positive note. Atlanta has the advantage of AHL reinforcements and will be targeting a win at home.

After the Orlando game, the Glads travel to Jacksonville for two games against the Icemen. Atlanta won 4-1 the last time they faced off at the Veterans Memorial Arena and will be looking for similar results this week. The Icemen are two points ahead of the Stingrays, but their playoff place is not secure yet. They will be fighting for their place just like the Glads so these two games will be intense, you do not want to miss out.

Atlanta will finish the week in South Carolina to take on the Stingrays, this will be a huge game for both teams. The Glads have actually won the last five matchups against the ‘Rays, but four of those games have gone into overtime. With added pressure on both teams, it will be a test of nerves as much as a test of skill. These are the types of games you have to win to be a playoff contender, it will be a must-see.

This Week’s Gladiators To Watch:

Derek Nesbitt: He was the hero last week after scoring five points (2g, 3a) in three games, with the pressure mounting as the team approaches the ‘Business’ end of the season, his experience and leadership will be vital. The ever-reliable forward is so important to this team, keep an eye on him this week.

Joel Messner: His return will improve the Atlanta defense. The numbers speak for themselves, the Glads are much better with Messner in the team. He has a great reading of the game and that allowed him to play in 29 AHL games this season. Shortly before his call up to Providence, the rookie blueliner was named as an alternate captain for the Gladiators, highlighting his importance to this team.

Sean Bonar: It is no coincidence that the Glads started winning games when Bonar got healthy. He has been one of the most important players on the team since he returned from an injury that kept him sidelined earlier in the season. A reliable goaltender is important at any level, the Gladiators are fortunate to have one of the leagues best. He has made some incredible saves this season and was featured on ESPN’s Sports Center for his heroics last week.

Interested in going to an Atlanta Gladiators or Boston Bruins game? Take a look at the upcoming schedule and ticket availability from our advertising partners over at SeatGiant. Click the links below and please use discount code BNGP to save a little cash! Thank You!

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Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 24 Recap

( Photo Credit: Taylor Trebotte / gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

The Gladiators recovered from a tough loss in Orlando with two wins against Kansas City and Greenville to keep their playoff hopes alive. The results leave Atlanta just two points behind South Carolina in the race for the final South Division playoff spot.  With only seven games remaining, every point is crucial.

Atlanta started the week on the road to Orlando. Sean Bonar was the starting goaltender. He was tested early by two power plays from the home side, and the Solar Bears found the net soon after, with goals from Colby McAuley and Otto Somppi, giving them a comfortable two-goal lead at the end of the first period. The misery continued for Atlanta in the second, Brent Pendersen and Chris LeBlanc both scored, prompting Jeff Pyle to replace Bonar with backup goalie, Michael Bitzer. Nolan LaPorte scored late in the second, thanks to an assist from Brett McKenzie. His goal was over-shadowed by Cody Donaghey, who scored to extend Orlando’s lead back to four goals. Neither side could find the net in the final frame, and the game ended 5-1 to the Solar Bears.

The Gladiators returned home to take on the Kansas City Mavericks for game two of the week. Sean Bonar was given the chance to redeem himself as the starter, but it was the visitors who struck first. Rocco Carzo opened the scoring on the power play for Kansas City. Atlanta responded quickly with a goal from Tyson Fawcett, his first as a Gladiator, assisted by Avery Peterson. The Mavericks crept ahead with just six seconds left in the first period, with an equal strength goal from Darian Dziurzynski.

It was ‘Super Hero Night’ at the Infinite Energy Center, and the Glads needed saving. Veteran forward, Derek Nesbitt, stepped up and scored his first of the night, assisted by Nick Bligh and Zach Malatesta. With the game wide open, Greg Betzold put Kansas City back into the lead, 3-2 the score after two. Determined to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Gladiators came out fighting in the final frame. The Mavericks defense stood firm for 16 minutes but Matt Lane finally leveled the score for Atlanta, with help from Nesbitt and Jack Stander. Just 14 seconds after tying the score, Nesbitt pounced on a defensive error to fire the Glads into the lead with the game-winning goal. A dramatic end to a great game of hockey, 4-3 the final score.

The Gladiators finished the week at home against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. Bonar started the game and the Glads set out to secure a win and keep the pressure on South Carolina. Danny Elser put Greenville ahead with the only goal of the first period. The Swamp Rabbits were the better team in the second, but a goal from Jake Flegal tied the score 1-1. He was assisted by Brett McKenzie and Avery Peterson. With both sides level at the final intermission, the stage was set for an exciting third period.

Atlanta struck first with a power play goal from Joseph Widmar, assisted by Brady Fleurent and Matt Lane. Both teams continued to have chances as the clock ticked on. In the dying moments, Lane scored the winning goal with help from Nesbitt and Jack Stander. Brendan Harms pulled one back for the Swamp Rabbits with seconds remaining in the game, but it was not enough to stop the Glads from securing a 3-2 win.

Interested in going to an Atlanta Gladiators or Boston Bruins game? Take a look at the upcoming schedule and ticket availability from our advertising partners over at SeatGiant. Click the links below and please use discount code BNGP to save a little cash! Thank You!

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Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 23 Recap

( Photo Credit: Taylor Trebotte / gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

The Atlanta Gladiators secured five points from three games in a what proved to be a good week for the Duluth based team. With 10 games remaining, the Glads are now level on points with the South Carolina Stingrays for the final playoff spot. Every game is crucial, and the Gladiators are rising to the challenge.

The South Carolina Stingrays were Atlanta’s first opponent of the week. After an impressive run of games, the Glads started Sean Bonar in net. With both teams fighting for the final playoff spot, the pressure was intense. South Carolina scored first, Mason Mitchell put the visitors ahead with the only goal of the first period. Midway through the second, the Stingrays doubled their lead after Jordan Samuel-Thomas beat Bonar. Four minutes later, the ‘Rays were three goals ahead, after Mitchell snagged his second goal of the night. Atlanta responded immediately, forward Brett McKenzie pulled one back for the hosts, assisted by Zach Malatesta. 3-1 the score after two.

Despite out-shooting South Carolina in the first two periods, the Gladiators had a lot of work to do in the third. It took five minutes for Matt Lane to get Atlanta within one, he was assisted by Zach Malatesta and Nolan LaPorte. Atlanta continued to pressure the Stingrays, and it finally paid off. Nick Bligh scored to tie the game at 3-3, Derek Nesbitt and Olivier Galipeau combined for the assists. The game went into overtime, and after a tense five minutes, the score remained tied. Both teams had to prepare for a shootout. Andrew Cherniwchan scored for the Stingrays, and Brett McKenzie found the net for Atlanta to make it 1-1 after three attempts each. After a series of misses from both teams, Alex Overhardt scored in the 11th round of the shootout before a save from Bonar secured a stunning comeback win for the Gladiators.

Game two saw the Florida Everblades come to town for the final time in the regular season. Following his heroics in the shootout, Atlanta stuck with Bonar as the starting goaltender. He was tested early by a Florida power play, but the Glads stood firm. The home team took the lead midway through the first period, with a goal from Nolan LaPorte, Matt Lane, and Zach Malatesta was credited with the helpers. The Gladiators held onto their one-goal lead until the second period, when Shane Walsh leveled for Florida. Neither team could find a second goal, even after overtime, so for the second game in a row, a shootout would determine the winner. Blake Winiecki beat Bonar to win the game for Florida, but the Glads came away with a crucial point.

The Glads took on the Norfolk Admirals for the third and final game of the week. After a string of good performances, Bonar started again. The game remained scoreless until the second period when LaPorte put the Glads ahead with an assist from John Furgele. Norfolk leveled the score with a power-play goal from Domenic Alberga, ending the second period 1-1. Both teams had chances to take the lead in the third, but it was Atlanta that pulled ahead. Nick Bligh scored the game-winning goal, assisted by Derek Nesbitt. 2-1 the final score, capping off a solid week for the Gladiators.

Interested in going to an Atlanta Gladiators or Boston Bruins game? Take a look at the upcoming schedule and ticket availability from our advertising partners over at SeatGiant. Click the links below and please use discount code BNGP to save a little cash! Thank You!

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Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 23 Preview

( Photo Credit: Dale Zanine / gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

After a tough week on the road, the Atlanta Gladiators return home for three divisional matchups against South Carolina, Florida, and Norfolk. Coach Pyle will be working hard to make sure his team returns to winning ways and keep their playoff hopes alive. The Glads are just two points behind the South Carolina Stingrays, who are in the final playoff spot. This is a crucial week, and the playoff picture could look very different after the next three games.

The Glads were boosted by the return of Brett McKenzie last Friday, following a stint in the AHL with the Providence Bruins. The rookie forward made an instant impact, but the big move of the week was the trade that saw forward, Branden Troock, sent to the Maine Mariners in exchange for defenseman, John Furgele. The rookie blueliner has been a standout performer this season, contributing 21 points (8g, 13a) in 51 games for the Mariners. He opened his Glads account straight away with two assists for his new team. In other news, forward Jared Ross has been signed and added to the active roster. Derek Nesbitt and Jake Flegal return from reserve while Joshua Victor and Joe Widmar head the other way. Defenseman Kevin Montgomery has been placed on IR as of March ninth.

The Gladiators started the week against the South Carolina Stingrays. With the two teams so close in the South Division standings, this is the most important game of the week. Playing at home will be an advantage for Atlanta, but with so much at stake, it is a tough game to call. The Glads have been closing in on the Stingrays for some time, and letting them win would increase the gap to four points. Both teams will be feeling the pressure, this could be a defining moment in the playoff race.

The games do not get any easier for Atlanta. Following the crucial game against South Carolina, the Glads get a chance of redemption against the Florida Everblades. Atlanta lost all three games against the ‘Blades last week, but they managed to earn a point in the third match up. The Everblades have been a problem for a very long time, but the Glads know they are capable of beating them. Home ice will be an advantage, but Atlanta will have to be at their best to win this one.

The Glads finish the week at home against the Norfolk Admirals. It has been over a month since the two teams last faced off. Since then, the Gladiators have climbed above Norfolk in the South Division standings and head into the week five points ahead of them. The Admirals are 3-6-0-1 in their last 10 and have not won in six games. Earlier this week, they picked up former Gladiator, Shane Eiserman, via trade which will add spice to the game.

This Week’s Gladiators To Watch:

Brett McKenzie: After spending time in the AHL with the Providence Bruins, McKenzie returned to the Glads and picked up where he left off scoring three points (1g, 2a) last week. The rookie forward has become an important player for Atlanta and is currently third on the team in total points with 36 (12g, 24a).

Olivier Galipeau: The rookie defenseman has been quiet offensively in recent weeks and is due for some points. The Gladiators power play has been strong all season, and Olivier is a key part of it. He is a skillful player and always fun to watch, keep an eye on him.

Nick Bligh: The third-year forward exploded against Jacksonville with three first period goals (for the second time this season) and has seven points (4g, 3a) in his last five games for Atlanta. He has been in solid form over the last two weeks and will be one to watch this week.

Interested in going to an Atlanta Gladiators or Boston Bruins game? Take a look at the upcoming schedule and ticket availability from our advertising partners over at SeatGiant. Click the links below and please use discount code BNGP to save a little cash! Thank You!

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Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 22 Preview

( Photo Credit: Amanda Bingham / gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

The Atlanta Gladiators face four tough divisional matchups this week. They will play three games on the road against the Florida Everblades before heading to Jacksonville to take on the Icemen. It will not be an easy ride, but the Glads have a great opportunity to test themselves in a playoff style scenario. Atlanta is just one point behind the South Carolina Stingrays in the race to the postseason.

Last week the Glads were boosted by the return of forwards Derek Nesbitt and Branden Troock, but there have been significant changes to the roster since then. After an impressive week, forwards Matt Lane and Zach Magwood were recalled to the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL. Atlanta acquired defenseman Joshua Victor, but the rookie was placed on reserve along with forward Luke Stork.

For the second time this season, Atlanta heads to the Hertz Arena for a three-game stint against the Florida Everblades. There are not many teams that would look forward to playing three straight games against the South Division leaders, but Coach Pyle will ensure that his players are prepared. Both teams are 6-4 in their last 10 games and enter the week in similar form. After struggling against the Everblades for almost two seasons, the Glads have won two of the last three games against them so they can take confidence from that. Atlanta has won 14 straight games when scoring first, so a good start will be vital against the Everblades.

Atlanta will finish the week in Florida against Jacksonville. The Glads have unfinished business after falling 2-0 to the Icemen last week. They will be hoping to get revenge and close the gap on their divisional rivals. Four road games is never easy, but the Glads will be motivated to prove that they belong in the playoffs.

This Week’s Gladiators To Watch:

Joe Widmar: The second-year forward has been a solid addition to the Glads roster with 17 points (6g, 11a) in 25 games. After being traded by a few teams, he has settled in Atlanta and been a consistent performer. Last week he bagged a goal and an assist and is definitely worth keeping an eye on this week.

Michael Bitzer: The back-up goaltender struggled in his last start, being pulled before the end of the first period. With the Glads playing four games this week, he is likely to start at least once. Bitzer is a very talented goalie and will bounce back from his last start. He recorded his first professional shutout just two games before and a lot has been said about his ability. He will be fun to watch this week.

Branden Troock: Troock’s return from injury was a big boost for the Gladiators last week. He hit the ground running with three points (1g, 2a) after a long period on Injured Reserve. In 19 games for Atlanta this season, he’s tallied 17 points (10g, 7a) which is just short of a point per game. He is one of the most productive forwards in the league and if he can stay healthy, will be a very important player for Atlanta down the stretch.

Interested in going to an Atlanta Gladiators or Boston Bruins game? Take a look at the upcoming schedule and ticket availability from our advertising partners over at SeatGiant. Click the links below and please use discount code BNGP to save a little cash! Thank You!

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Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 21 Recap

( Photo Credit: Amanda Bingham / gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

After a successful week on the road in South Dakota, the Gladiators returned to more familiar territory in week 21, facing South Division rivals Jacksonville and Greenville. Despite the return of Derek Nesbitt, Atlanta only managed one win from three games. The Glads remain in fifth place, just one point behind South Carolina, the playoff race is still very much alive.

The week began with a trip to Jacksonville to take on the Icemen. Sean Bonar was given the start, and the Glads began their fifth-straight road game. Atlanta was awarded an early power play, but it was all Jacksonville for most of the first period. The Glads defended bravely, and the game was scoreless heading into the first intermission. Less than a minute into the second period, the Icemen took the lead with a goal from David Broll. The Gladiators managed to create some chances but were unable to find the net. With two seconds left in the second, the home team doubled their lead with a score from Everett Clark. The two-goal lead proved to be more than enough in the final frame with Atlanta unable to score. A disappointing start to the week for the Glads.

After five tough road games, Atlanta finally returned home to take on the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. Sean Bonar remained the starter, and the Glads were boosted by the return of forward, Branden Troock. It was Derek Nesbitt who struck first, putting Atlanta ahead with assists from Nolan LaPorte and Joe Widmar. The Glads were in control but could not increase their lead before Jake Bolton leveled the score for the visitors. 1-1 the score at the break.

Atlanta continued to dominate in the second period, but the Swamp Rabbits hung on, somehow keeping the puck out of their net. The Glads persistence finally paid off when Avery Peterson scored the only goal of the second period, assisted by Tyson Fawcett and Justin MacDonald. Atlanta extended the lead early in the third frame, Matt Lane with the tally, assisted by Zach Magwood and Branden Troock. The Glads were cruising until the Swamp Rabbits were awarded a power play, which led to a goal from Austen Brassard, making it a one-goal game. Greenville threw everything they had at Atlanta, pulling their goalie and putting pressure on Sean Bonar and the Glads defense. After a tense few minutes, the Gladiators weathered the storm and emerged victorious, 3-2 the final score.

After the thrilling win over the Swamp Rabbits in Game Two, Atlanta traveled to Greenville for a rematch in the third and final game of the week. The Glads stuck with Sean Bonar after confident displays from him in the previous two games. The Swamp Rabbits took the lead in the 10th minute with a goal from Tyler Bird. The Gladiators leveled moments later thanks to Branden Troock, who was assisted by Olivier Galipeau and Matt Lane. Both sides had chances before Greenville was awarded a power play. The home team took full advantage, and Adam Larkin restored their lead. The frantic first period ended with Alex Overhardt scoring for Atlanta with help from Troock, 2-2 the score at the break.

Greenville took the lead for the third time half-way through the second period, with goals from Dylan Vander Esch and Austen Brassard. Atlanta was unable to respond until the final frame when Joe Widmar pulled one back thanks to assists from Derek Nesbitt and Nick Bligh. It looked like the Glads were going to level the score again before a Greenville power play goal from Stephen Pierog thwarted their hopes. 5-3 the final score.

Interested in going to an Atlanta Gladiators or Boston Bruins game? Take a look at the upcoming schedule and ticket availability from our advertising partners over at SeatGiant. Click the links below and please use discount code BNGP to save a little cash! Thank You!

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Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 21 Preview

( Photo Credit: Taylor Trebotte / gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

The playoff race is really heating up in the South Division, and the Atlanta Gladiators are in the hunt for a spot. Just two points separate South Carolina, Atlanta, and Norfolk. After an impressive week on the road, Atlanta has a chance to boost its playoff hopes with three games against divisional opponents. The week starts with a trip to Jacksonville to face the Icemen before the Glads take on the Greenville Swamp Rabbits both at home and on the road.

The Gladiators announced two big moves on Tuesday. Forward Tyson Fawcett joined Atlanta from the Reading Royals, in exchange for cash considerations. The experienced center has only managed five points (4g, 1a) in 35 games this year, but has scored 118 points (52g, 66a) in 278 ECHL games. He will bring experience to the Gladiators forward core and has a chance to feature against his former team, the Jacksonville Icemen, this week. After an impressive spell in Atlanta, defenseman Filip Pyrochta was recalled to the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals. He notched two goals and three assists in his time with the Glads. In other news, the Admirals reassigned forward Zach Magwood to Atlanta. The first-year pro earned an assist in three games for the Glads earlier in the season. Defenseman Kevin Montgomery has been activated from reserve after a lengthy spell on the sidelines, and Mr. Gladiator, Derek Nesbitt, returns to the lineup after missing out on the Rapid City road trip.

The matchup against Jacksonville will be Atlanta’s fifth consecutive game on the road. After taking four points from a possible six last week, the Glads will be hoping to end the road trip in style. The Icemen are 5-3-1-1 in their last 10 games and third place in the South Division standings, six points ahead of Atlanta. The Gladiators have won the last two games against Jacksonville and the Icemen will be looking over their shoulders as the playoff race heats up, this will certainly be a fun game to watch.

Game two of the week marks the return of the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, who are no strangers to the Infinite Energy Arena. After replacing Atlanta at the bottom of the South Division standings, the Swamp Rabbits have been able to win some games and have improved to 5-5 in their last 10. It is always difficult to call when these two teams play, but with home advantage, the Glads should win comfortably.

Atlanta finished off the week with a trip to Greenville, hopefully on the back of a positive result from game two. The Glads will be the favorites for the rematch, but the Swamp Rabbits should not be underestimated. As long as Coach Pyle’s men respect their opponent, Atalanta will take the win.

This Week’s Gladiators To Watch:

Sean Bonar: After the game, we don’t talk about (8-2 loss to Newfoundland) Bonar has bounced back in great form. He recorded a shutout win last week and only conceded one goal in two starts. He also replaced Michael Bitzer for two periods and kept his net empty. It’s safe to say he’s back to his best, definitely one to watch this week.

Zach Malatesta: The hard-hitting defenseman has been one of Atlanta’s unsung heroes this season. He scored a game-winner against Rapid City last week and has consistently been a key part of the Glads defensive core. He is very dangerous when he gets the opportunity to attack and deserves to be highlighted this week.

Derek Nesbitt: Mr. Gladiator returns to the lineup after missing out against Rapid City. He will be raring to go as the Glads are on fire offensively. He leads the Gladiators against the Icemen this season with eight points (3g, 5a) and should be on your radar this week.

Interested in going to an Atlanta Gladiators or Boston Bruins game? Take a look at the upcoming schedule and ticket availability from our advertising partners over at SeatGiant. Click the links below and please use discount code BNGP to save a little cash! Thank You!

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Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 20 Recap

( Photo Credit: Richard Anderson / rapidcityjournal.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

The Gladiators return from their road trip to South Dakota triumphant. After winning two of the three games against the Rapid City Rush, Atlanta has closed the gap on the South Carolina Stingrays to just one point. Despite losing some key players to Providence before the road trip, the Glads stuck together and will be pleased with their four-point haul.

Sean Bonar was given the start between the pipes for game one, hoping to bounce back from a slight dip in form the previous week. Atlanta took an early lead with a goal from Nick Bligh, assisted by Joe Widmar and Avery Peterson. The Glads looked comfortable in the first period, but the Rush improved in the second. Eventually, the home team leveled the score with a tally from Justin Faryna. A win was on the cards for both teams heading into the final period, and after a flurry of chances, defenseman Zach Malatesta stepped up and scored the game-winner for Atlanta. He was assisted by Joe Widmar and Luke Stork. 2-1 the final score.

After making 23 saves from 24 shots in game one, Atlanta stuck with Sean Bonar as the starter for round two. The Glads controlled the opening frame and eventually took the lead with a power-play goal from Nolan LaPorte, assisted by Daniel Leavens and Olivier Galipeau. Rapid City’s discipline continued to cause them problems in the second period. Atlanta doubled the lead with a second power-play goal, this time it was Justin MacDonald with the score, assisted by Nick Bligh and Avery Peterson. The home side gave up a third power-play goal just moments later, as Alex Overhardt slotted home with helpers from Olivier Galipeau and Nolan LaPorte. The Rush had a mountain to climb in the third period. After throwing everything at Atlanta, they couldn’t beat Sean Bonar. Justin MacDonald wrapped up the shutout win with an empty-netter in the closing stages. 4-0 the final score. It was Coach Pyle’s 500th win as an ECHL coach, he became the second person in league history to achieve the milestone.

Michael Bitzer was given the start against his former team for the third and final game of the week, but it was a difficult night for the second-year netminder. It was the Rush who scored first with Zach Fischer getting on the board midway through the first period. Moments later, former Gladiator Darby Llewellyn found the net to double Rapid City’s lead, before Zach Fischer scored his second of the night on the power play, making the score 3-0. This prompted the Glads to pull Bitzer in favor of Bonar with just under a minute remaining in the first frame.

Atlanta had a lot of work to do heading into the second period and scored quickly after Nick Bligh was set up by Filip Pyrochta and Joe Widmar. Despite heavily out-shooting Rapid City, the Glads could not add to their tally in what proved to be a very frustrating period. Atlanta continued to put pressure on the home team during the third period, and eventually found a second goal, Matt Lane the scorer, assisted by Pyrochta and Malatesta. As the clock ticked down, the Glads looked certain to level the score before Cedric Montminy tucked home an empty-netter for the hosts, ending the game 4-2 to the Rush. It was a bitter pill to swallow for Atlanta, who out-shot Rapid City 40-17.

Interested in going to an Atlanta Gladiators or Boston Bruins game? Take a look at the upcoming schedule and ticket availability from our advertising partners over at SeatGiant. Click the links below and please use discount code BNGP to save a little cash! Thank You!

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Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 20 Preview

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( Photo Credit: gwinnettdailypost.com / Taylor Trebotte )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

The Gladiators franchise-record point streak ended last week, but the team has already laid the foundations for another unbeaten run. After a disappointing loss to the Newfoundland Growlers, Atlanta bounced back with comfortable wins against Greenville and South Carolina. This week, the Glads head to South Dakota for a three-game series against the Rapid City Rush.

There have been some significant departures from the Gladiator’s roster over the last week. Forward Brett McKenzie was recalled to Providence after an impressive rookie season in Atlanta. He leaves the Gladiators ranked second for points on the season with 34 (11g, 23a) and will be missed by the fans and his teammates. Defenseman Joel Messner was also recalled to Providence, and like McKenzie, will be a big loss for Atlanta. He was establishing himself as one of the most important players on the roster and had recently been made alternate captain. The Gladiators have resigned defenseman Brandon McMartin who did a feature for the team earlier in the season but has spent the majority of 2018-19 with the Knoxville Ice Bears of the SPHL. He has joined up with the squad and could feature against Rapid City this week.

This week’s opponents, the Rapid City Rush, are the second non-divisional opponents that the Glads will face this season. Atlanta will be hoping for much better results than the game against the Newfoundland Growlers. Both the Glads and the Rush are very close in the league standings, with 50 points each. The Rush have a 5-3-2 record in their last 10 games and will pose a physical threat to Atlanta, with almost twice as many penalty minutes on the season. Gladiators netminder, Michael Bitzer, could face his former team if he gets a start over Sean Bonar, and the Glads will be up against former forward, Darby Llewellyn, who has 16 points (5g, 11a) on the season for the Rush. It is difficult to predict who will come out on top as the teams have not faced each other yet, home advantage will help the Rush, but Atlanta will be hoping to improve their playoff chances with points on this road trip.

This Week’s Gladiators To Watch:

Daniel Leavens: The veteran forward has hit the ground running for Atlanta. He grabbed three points (2g, 1a) in three games for the Glads last week and is establishing himself as a key part of the offense. His experience will be very valuable on what will be a tricky road trip, he will want to lead by example. Keep an eye on him.

Michael Bitzer: The second-year goaltender has been waiting patiently for a run in the Atlanta team and he made a great impression last week, recording his first professional shutout in the game against Greenville. Facing his former team will give added motivation and makes him an intriguing player to watch this week.

Nick Bligh: The third-year forward has eight points in his last eight games and has scored some very important goals for the Glads already this season. He’s been one of the most important forwards in recent weeks and his contributions have gone slightly under the radar. An exciting player and definitely one to watch out for this week.

Interested in going to an Atlanta Gladiators or Boston Bruins game? Take a look at the upcoming schedule and ticket availability from our advertising partners over at SeatGiant. Click the links below and please use discount code BNGP to save a little cash! Thank You!

—>Atlanta Gladiators 2018-19 Schedule & Ticket Info<—

–> Boston Bruins 2018-19 Schedule & Ticket Info <–