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!

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

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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!

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

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Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 10 Preview

( Photo Credit: gwinnettdailypost.com / Taylor Trebotte )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

Winless in their last six games, the Atlanta Gladiators head into what could arguably be the toughest week of their season so far. Three back-to-back road games against strong divisional rivals is never easy, especially when you’re bottom of the division by nine points. The Glads have managed just five wins in 21 games so far, with an underwhelming record of 5-12-4. At this stage of the season, they’re playing for pride.

Last weekend the team were buoyed by the return of forward Tanner Pond, who had spent the start of the season in the AHL with the Providence Bruins. He contributed right away, scoring twice in his first game back and adding five assists in the three games he spent with his old team. He barely had time to unpack before he was recalled to Providence, a big blow to Atlanta. The team confirmed on Tuesday that defenseman Ben Danford had been placed on Injury Reserve, it’s unclear how long he will be out for. The Glads also lost forward Matt Lane who was recalled to Milwaukee. On a more positive note, the team acquired forward Nick Bligh in exchange for future considerations. The Boston, MA native has accumulated nine points in 19 games with the Worcester Railers so far this season, though he only managed one point (an assist) in his last six games with them. In other news, forward Branden Troock was placed on reserve and defenseman Vytal Cote was added to the active roster.

The first of three games on the road takes place on Wednesday night, the Gladiators will travel to the North Charleston Coliseum to take on the South Carolina Stingrays. It will be the third game in a row between the two teams. Atlanta came agonizingly close in the first two contests of this mini-series, hopefully they can wrap it up with a win. On Friday night the Glads head to Jacksonville to take on the Icemen. Atlanta have only played one game against the Icemen so far this season, a 3-2 defeat in overtime. The boys will close out the road trip with a visit to the Orlando Solar Bears, desperate to avenge the most recent 5-4 loss against them. Although the offense is putting up good numbers, the Gladiators need to tighten up defensively in order to start winning games. Coach Pyle admitted that the team needed to defend better after last weeks loss to the Solar Bears before adding “I don’t think we’ve ever quit, that’s the upside of the team.” One thing is for sure, the Gladiators wont go down without a fight.

This Week’s Gladiators To Watch:

Brett McKenzie: Four points in his last three games, the center is in solid form. With the departures of Matt Lane and Tanner Pond, he will have an increased responsibility in the coming weeks so he will need to maintain his offensive production. While he has big boots to fill, the potential is there for him to step up for the team.

Zach Malatesta: The hard-hitting defenseman continued to add to his points tally last weekend with three assists against the Stingrays. He’s been a lot more aggressive moving the puck into the offensive zone and it’s paid off. With Danford on Injury Reserve, the Gladiators will need him to step up on the power play. He’s shown his capability of setting up the forwards, he will be an important player this week.

Nolan LaPorte: What else needs to be said after a stunning hat-trick put the team in prime position for a win against South Carolina? The third-year forward seems to be finding momentum now, with 13 points in 14 games. After a quiet spell he was on fire last weekend. If he can carry that form into next week then he’s certain to add to that tally.

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

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

Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 9 Recap

( Photo Credit: gwinnettdailypost.com / Taylor Trebotte )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

Defensive woes returned for the Atlanta Gladiators this weekend, three consecutive defeats leave the team in dire straights. The Glads are now winless in their last six games, the gap at the bottom of the South Division has stretched to nine points. At 5-12-4 on the season, the numbers suggest that the team has given up, but that is not the case. Though the results have been poor, coach Pyle’s men are working extremely hard, they came agonizingly close to a win this weekend.

The weekend began with the Glads taking on the Orlando Solar Bears at the Infinite Energy Arena on Friday night. Showing off their new black uniforms, the Gladiators were desperate for a win. Orlando took an early lead through Troy Bourke before Tanner Pond announced his return to Atlanta with his first goal of the season in the middle of the first period. Both teams continued to exchange shots but were tied at the first intermission. Derek Nesbitt put the Glads ahead four minutes into the second frame, before a flurry of goals from Mathieu Foget, Brady Shaw and Troy Bourke, his second of the night, gave the Solar Bears a comfortable lead. Tanner Pond doubled his goal tally moments before the end of the second period, 4-3 the score at the break. Cody Donaghey restored Orlando’s two-goal advantage in the third period. Forward Brett McKenzie managed to pull one back for Atlanta, but it wasn’t enough, the Solar Bears winning the contest 5-4.

On Saturday night the Gladiators traveled to the North Charleston Coliseum to take on the South Carolina Stingrays. Colton Phinney was given the start between the pipes and did well to keep the puck out of his net for the first period, 0-0 the score at the end of the first. Branden Troock and Jake Flegal gave Atlanta a rare two-goal lead early in the second period, and the Glads looked comfortable for the first time in a long time. Matt Pohlkamp scored a crucial goal for the Stingrays moments before the second intermission to keep his team in the game. Just five minutes into the final period of regulation, Branden Troock scored his second of the night, putting the Glads up 3-1. The lead didn’t last long, two quick goals from Cameron Askew tied the game 3-3, and the contest went into overtime. Tad Kozun scored the winner to complete a remarkable comeback for the Stingrays, a tough result for Atlanta but a crucial point earned for their efforts.

After a close game on Saturday, the stage was set perfectly for a rematch. On Sunday the Stingrays traveled to Duluth for Atlanta’s third and final game of the weekend. Nolan LaPorte put the Glads ahead inside the first minute, much to the delight of the home crowd. Tad Kozun leveled the score before Jonathan Charbonneau edged the Stingrays into the lead. Shane Eiserman continued his good form against the Gladiators, his goal extending the lead to 3-1. Brett McKenzie and David Mazurek both scored for Atlanta to leave the game evenly poised at 3-3 heading into the final period. Mike Chen restored South Carolina’s lead before LaPorte bagged his second goal of the night, tying the game at 4-4. Tad Kozun scored again to put the Stingrays ahead before LaPorte completed his hat-trick for Atlanta. Incredibly the score was 5-5 with less than five minutes left on the clock. With both teams desperate to steal the win, Cameron Askew bagged one more goal for the Stingrays, ending a fantastic game of hockey 6-5, another defeat for Atlanta.

On Monday, the Gladiators announced that forward Tanner Pond had been recalled to the Providence Bruins. He made an instant impact during his short spell back with the team, and he will be missed. Despite his departure, there are encouraging signs for the Atlanta Gladiators. Though the defense had a tough weekend, the offense is firing on all cylinders. As the old saying goes, you can’t win if you can’t score. The Gladiators will need the likes of LaPorte, Troock, Nesbitt, and McKenzie in good scoring form to get back to winning ways. Their contributions will dictate the results moving forward. There’s plenty of hockey still to play.

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

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

Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 8 Preview

( Photo Credit: Amanda Bingham / gwinnettdailypost.com )

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.

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

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

Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 7 Thanksgiving Recap

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( Photo Credit: gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

As Thanksgiving weekend draws to a close, the Gladiators should be in good spirits after ending their four-game losing streak Wednesday night with a 3-2 overtime win against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. With some key players returning from injury this week, the Gladiators looked in much better form than they have recently, but there’s still a lot of work ahead for the boys. Unfortunately, despite a vastly improved performance from the defense, they came up short against the Stingrays Friday night, losing 3-2. These results leave the Glads with a 5-9-2 record, and bottom of the south division by three points.

On Wednesday night the Greenville Swamp Rabbits arrived at the Infinite Energy Arena for a south division show down. Forward, Brandon Troock, was back into the lineup after recovering from an injury and forward, Matt Lane, was back after a stint in the AHL with the Milwaukee Admirals. The Gladiators started the game positively, dominating the possession and testing of Garrett Bartus, the Greenville netminder, with a lot of shots. Despite the early pressure, Michael Pelech put the Swamp Rabbits ahead on their first real opportunity in the game. The first period ended 1-0 with the Glads forcing 23 saves from Bartus.

The second period started in similar fashion to first, with Atlanta controlling the game but unable to score. After 11 minutes, disaster struck as John May doubled Greenville’s lead. Despite their recent poor form, the Gladiators responded excellently just a minute later as Matt Lane marked his return with a brilliant goal. Despite being the better team, the Gladiators still trailed until Garret Ross leveled the game with 40 seconds left in the period, assisted by Zach Malatesta and Matt Lane.

Greenville rallied for the start of the third period and looked like a different team, controlling the early exchanges and forcing Svoboda to make some great saves. Momentum shifted to the Glads when Chad Duchesne was sent to the box for Greenville, giving Atlanta a great opportunity to wrestle into the lead. Zach Malatesta fired the Gladiators into a 3-2 lead. With just over five minutes left on the clock, Atlanta faced a tough test, desperate to cling on for a much-needed win. Greenville threw everything they had, pulling Bartus out of the net with one last roll of the dice. The move paid off, with Austen Brassard scoring in the final minute of the game. The Gladiators players looked devastated, despite being the better team for most of the game, they were headed into the dreaded overtime.

Jeff Pyle called his men together for some words of encouragement before overtime began, the Gladiators had fought hard for their point, but anything less then a win after a strong performance would be crushing for this team. The Glads started with Danford forcing a save from Bartus early before an absolute rocket from new signing Dan Olivieri flew into the net, stunning the Swamp Rabbits and sparking huge celebrations from the Atlanta bench. Finally, a win for the Gladiators.

Boosted by their first win in five games, Atlanta took on the South Carolina Stingrays in the second and final game of the week on Friday night. Svoboda was given the start again between the pipes, and there was a real sense of optimism at the Infinite Energy Arena. The Gladiators took an early lead through Brett McKenzie who was assisted by Branden Troock and Jesse Gabrielle. Both sides continued to exchange shots before Tad Kozun put the Stingrays on board, the first period ending 1-1. The Gladiators gave up multiple penalties throughout the second period as the Stingrays started to control the game. The Atlanta penalty kill stood firm as the clock wound down. With just a minute left, Patrick Gaul put the Stingrays ahead, the second frame ended 2-1 to South Carolina. Atlanta was back onto the penalty kill almost as soon as the third period began, Jake Flegal called for high sticking. Grant Besse scored SC’s third goal of the night to put the game beyond the Gladiators. Branden Troock managed to pull one back for the Gladiators, but his effort was in vain, 3-2 the final score.

Despite the loss to the Stingrays, the Gladiators looked vastly improved. The win against Greenville was much needed, and although they lost against South Carolina, the defense looks to be improving. Atlanta’s next game is Friday night at home to the Swamp Rabbits again. They have a chance to regroup and recover, work on some issues in training and hopefully can build some momentum for the rest of the season, as they aim to build a playoff run.

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

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