Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 14 Preview

( Photo Credit: postandcourier.com / Stingrays Photo )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

The Atlanta Gladiators started off 2019 slightly better than expected, with a win over bitter South Division rivals, the Florida Everblades. The Glads started the new year with a three-game road trip to the sunshine state and very little hope. Despite picking up a win, the Gladiators remain at the bottom of the South Division by a startling 11 points. There’s a mountain to climb, but Coach Pyle’s men are undoubtedly up to the task. They play two games this week against the South Carolina Stingrays and the Jacksonville Icemen.

Earlier in the week, the Gladiators released defenseman Don Olivieri, who was picked up on waivers by the Norfolk Admirals. The third-year-pro tallied seven points (2g, 5a) in 14 games for the Glads and his release came as a surprise to many fans. He’s already bagged a goal and an assist on his return to Norfolk. The departure created space for Atlanta to pick up defenseman Brandon McMartin, who joins the Gladiators from the Knoxville Ice Bears of the SPHL. He’s featured in 20 games so far this season, scoring six points (2g, 4a).

On Friday night, the Gladiators travel to South Carolina to take on the Stingrays at the North Charleston Coliseum. It will be the seventh time the two teams have faced off this season, the Glads have lost all six encounters so far. The Stingrays have won six of their last 10 ECHL games and will be heavy favorites heading into the contest. Atlanta is used to being the underdog by now and is beginning to thrive in that role. Interestingly, the Glads have picked up points in two of the last three games against the Stingrays, they’re certainly capable of an upset and I wouldn’t count them out of this one.

The Gladiators play at home for the first time in 2019 on Saturday night. They take on the Jacksonville Icemen for the fifth time this season. Jacksonville leads the head-to-head contest 3-1, but fans will remember the Glads 4-0 demolition against the Icemen which ended their 10-game losing streak. If Atlanta can play anything like they did that night, then they can certainly come away with a win. One thing that this game promises is goals.

This Week’s Gladiators To Watch:

Nolan LaPorte: Three points in three tough games against the Florida Everblades last week confirms LaPorte’s inclusion on the list this week. His offensive production was incredible against the leagues best last week. Did I mention he scored a hat-trick the last time he played the Stingrays?

Sean Bonar: He made a total of 53 saves last week and was one of the main reasons the Glads managed to beat the Florida Everblades. He’s held down the starting role since returning from injury and has made so many incredible saves this season. I’m already looking forward to watching his highlight reel in February.

Brett McKenzie: One of the most consistent players on the roster, McKenzie has six points in his last seven games. He’s been very productive for the Gladiators this season, if he can stay healthy is going to be one of their most reliable weapons moving forward. This week, he was named as an alternate for the ECHL All-Star Classic, the only Gladiator to make the roster.

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 <–

Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 13 Recap

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( Photo Credit: Taylor Trebotte / gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

The Atlanta Gladiators kicked off 2019 with an unlikely win in a difficult three-game road trip against the Florida Everblades. It was a true team performance to seal the win against the league leaders, with everyone stepping up and playing their part. The results leave the Gladiators last in the South Division, but the win gives them a foundation to build on for the second half of the season.

On Wednesday night, the Gladiators went toe-to-toe with the Florida Everblades for the first of three games in the sunshine state. Sean Bonar, who ended 2018 in great form, was given the start between the pipes for the Glads. Atlanta started bravely and looked confident against the Everblades, managing to avoid any mistakes. Florida also defended well, and the first period ended with no score. The Everblades eventually broke through, with second-period goals from Patrick McCarron and Justin Auger.

The Gladiators fought on, and Nolan LaPorte cut Florida’s lead in half with a power-play goal early in the third. He was assisted by Oliver Galipeau and Brett McKenzie. The Glads pushed for a game-tying score but were unable to find one before Kyle Platzer bagged Florida’s third of the night. Atlanta pulled Bonar off the ice with one last roll of the dice, but Nathan Perkovich poked in an empty-netter to seal the game for the Everblades. 4-1 the final score.

The teams faced off again on Friday night for game two of the series. Coach Pyle kept his faith in Sean Bonar, who assumed his position in the crease. Atlanta once again came into the game fearlessly and looked like the better team in the opening period, they had chances to take the lead, but the game remained scoreless by the end of the first period. The Everblades came flying into the second frame, dominating the early exchanges and taking the lead through Blake Winiecki.

The Gladiators were awarded a power play and took full advantage, Nolan LaPorte the scorer, assisted by Joel Messner and Dave Mazurek. New signing Luke Stork then stepped up with his first professional goal to put Atlanta ahead, he was assisted by Vytal Cote. The Everblades threw everything at the Glads in the third period, but they couldn’t beat Sean Bonar and the resolute defense in front of him. The Gladiators held on for a fully deserved 2-1 win.

It was a Saturday night showdown for the third and final game of the week between the Glads and the Everblades. New signing, Michael Bitzer, was given the start in net for Atlanta, in what proved to be a baptism of fire for the young goaltender. There was a lot of chatter between both teams before Zach Malatesta dropped the gloves with Florida’s Tommy Thompson, just two minutes into the game. Moments later, the Everblades had the lead with a goal from Ben Masella, ending the first period 1-0. The penalties kept coming for both teams, and 36 seconds into the second frame, the Glads pounced on a power play opportunity and Brett McKenzie tied the game, assisted by Olivier Galipeau and Justin MacDonald.

The rest of the second period was dominated by the Everblades, who scored four goals before the next intermission. Joe Cox, Logan Roe, Blake Winiecki, and Josh Wesley all tallied to give Florida a huge 5-1 lead heading into the third. Olivier Galipeau bagged himself a power-play goal for the Gladiators, assisted by Zach Malatesta and Nolan LaPorte. The effort was in vain, as Michael Neville and Justin Auger put the game well beyond Atlanta’s reach with two more, 7-2 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<—

–> Boston Bruins 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: Gladiators Week 5 Road Trip Recap

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( Photo Credit: Amanda Bingham gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

The Atlanta Gladiators week on the road is finally over. Back to back road games are always tough, and the team will be pleased to get home after a haul of 2 points from a possible 6. After a stressful week, the players and supporters can take some comfort from the upcoming schedule, which has the Gladiators at home for the next 2 weeks. Head coach Jeff Pyle will use this time to regroup and hopefully build some momentum to help the team match the preseason expectations of a playoff run. Before the homestand begins, let’s take a look back at how the team fared on the road in the last 3 games.

On Friday night, the Gladiators faced off against the Norfolk Admirals for their 3rd encounter in a row. After thumping them 5-1 the week before, there was plenty of confidence heading into the game. Colton Phinney was given the start between the pipes after a promising start to the season with the Adirondack Thunder, though the Chatham, NJ native didn’t get much help from his defensemen. By the 2nd intermission, the Gladiators were 3-0 down after goals from Darik Angeli, Jacob Graves, and Luke Nogard. The only real positive from the game was Branden Troock’s goal 5 minutes into the 3rd, which briefly gave Atlanta hope, before Luke Nogard’s second of the night condemned the Gladiators to a 4-1 loss.

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After a disappointing result, the Gladiators were offered a chance of redemption on Saturday night, and boy did they take it. Against the same opponent, at the same venue, the Gladiators faced off against the Norfolk Admirals for the 4th game in a row. After starting the game slowly, Atlanta was 2-0 down after 7 minutes with goals from Luke Nogard and Taylor Cammarata. Forward Brett McKenzie pulled one back for the Glads, making the score 2-1 at the end of the first period.

The Gladiators onslaught began just 19 seconds into the 2nd period when Alex Overhardt leveled the game at 2-2. Atlanta took the lead 6 minutes later when Providence Bruins loanee Olivier Galipeau scored his 3rd goal of the season. Nolan LaPorte finished the second-period rout with just 15 seconds left in the frame, Atlanta leading 4-2 at the break. The Admirals fought back in the 3rd with Cammarata’s second of the night but 2 minutes later Derek Nesbitt’s neat finish restored the 2 goal advantage, and the Gladiators emerged 5-3 victors. Goaltender Miroslav Svoboda finishing the night with 34 saves. The win was Jeff Pyle’s 481st as an ECHL coach, making him 3rd on the all-time ECHL coaching win list.

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Tuesday night the Gladiators traveled to the North Charleston Coliseum, hoping to emerge triumphant over the South Carolina Stingrays. Before the game, it was announced that the Glads had traded promising young forward, Shane Eiserman, to the Stingrays in exchange for forward Garrett Ross, a move which had a huge effect on the contest. In the second minute of the game, the recently traded Eiserman assisted Sam Fioretti, and the Stingrays took an early lead.

Moments later, Eiserman continued to haunt his former team as he bagged a goal, doubling the deficit and stunning his former teammates. Patrick Gaul piled on the misery and put Atlanta 3-0 down inside the first 10 minutes of the game. Derek Nesbitt wrestled one back, and the score was 3-1 at the end of the first. Both teams exchanged a goal in the second, Grant Besse first for South Carolina before Jesse Gabrielle scored the Gladiators second of the night. The third period was relatively quiet, and the score remained 4-2, a disappointing loss for Atlanta who was out-shot 39-16.

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The results leave the Gladiators 6th in the south division, just 1 point above last-placed Greenville Swamp Rabbits. There’s certainly some work for coach Pyle to do, the stretch of home games comes at a good time and gives them a chance to turn things around. The Gladiators are in action 3 times this weekend, Friday against the Norfolk Admirals and Saturday and Sunday against the Florida Everblades.

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: Gladiators Week 4 Preview

( Photo credit: atlantagladiators.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

The Gladiators return from their weekend on the road with a point after a 3-2 overtime defeat to the Jacksonville Icemen and a frustrating 4-3 loss to the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. Atlanta fought hard and perhaps deserved more from the weekend, but what have we learned? Well, in case you’ve been hiding under a rock, the southern division is going to be very tough this year. Atlanta started the season with bags of optimism, but have been dealt some tough losses against divisional opponents, they currently sit 6th.

Against the Swamp Rabbits, Atlanta controlled large chunks of the game and created more chances, out-shooting them with 30 attempts on goal to 24. Despite this, Greenville put 4 past the Sean Bonar, punishing every mistake the Gladiators made. I think it’s fair to say that they could do with some luck, but the ECHL is an unforgiving league, the Glads will have to iron out the errors in order to start climbing up the league.

Jeff Pyle continues to tweak the roster as he tries to build the best team possible. The Gladiators have shown their intentions are still very much on success, spending the cash and making a huge trade for goaltender Colton Phinney and forward Shane Eiserman who join from league leaders, the Adirondack Thunder. Shortly after the trade was announced, Phinney was named as the ECHL goaltender of the week after going 2-0 with a .968 save percentage for the Thunder in his last 2 games. Following the departure of Miroslav Svoboda, I expect the second-year pro to slot straight into the starting role for Atlanta and will be a boost to the team.

Forward Shane Eiserman impressed in his 2 professional starts, bagging himself a goal and 2 assists. The Newburyport, MA native has represented the United States in competition, most notably at the U18 World Junior Championships. Tyler Moy also rejoined the Glads after a spell with the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL. The forward scored in Atlanta’s season opener and after a stint in the AHL registered an assist against Greenville. In order to make room on the roster, the Gladiators confirmed the release of forwards Andrew Schmit and Luke Sandler as well as goalie Ian Sylves.

The Gladiators will face the Norfolk Admirals 4 times over the next 2 weeks. The series starts in Atlanta, with 2 games at the Infinite Energy Arena as the Gladiators look to bounce back from last week and leap-frog their divisional rivals. The Admirals will be confident heading into the series with 11 goals from their last 3 games, though they did also concede 9 times, so the Gladiators will be excited to get at them, especially on the power play which has been productive so far. If anything, you can expect a lot of goals. Back to back games against the same opponent almost gives this stretch a playoff vibe, I’m sure we’ll see the gloves come off as these divisional rivals clash. I hope that the Gladiators can thrive on the intensity. Whatever happens, we’re in for a good series against the Admirals.

This Week’s Gladiators To Watch:

Shane Eiserman: The rookie forward arrives in Atlanta carrying bags of potential. After scoring 3 points in his first 2 games as a pro, he’ll want to hit the ground running for the Gladiators. Coach Pyle likes what he sees from the 23-year-old, he’ll be given the freedom he needs to create and score chances.

Joona Koppanen: The Boston Bruins prospect has had a few games to adjust to life in the ECHL. As time goes on, his chemistry with the team is only going to improve. Don’t be fooled by his towering frame, he brings European flair to the ice, and as his confidence grows, he’ll be more than a handful for opposing defensemen.

Brett McKenzie: The rookie finally bagged his first ECHL goals against the Swamp Rabbits and had a really strong game. His first goals will no doubt give him added confidence. He enters the series against the Admirals in good form, now that the floodgates have opened, keep an eye on him.

Gladiators Training Camp Update

( Photo Credit: @atlgladiators Twitter )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

The 2018-19 Atlanta Gladiators training camp is in full swing. New Ownership marks the beginning of a new era in Georgia, and preparations are underway for what promises to be an exciting season. The return of head coach, Jeff Pyle, has created a genuine feel of optimism amongst the players as well as the supporters. Roster spots are up for grabs with senior players away on AHL tryouts, so there’s strong competition in the camp with everybody trying to impress the new bosses. Training camp ends on October 7th, so the clock is ticking for players eager to earn their place.

The Gladiators management have been busy with a number of players returning to Atlanta after AHL try-outs, and some new faces joining the squad. Branden Troock, Darby Llewellyn and Jack Stander returned from try-outs with the Milwaukee Admirals, in addition, the Gladiators also loaned forward Alex Overhardt from Milwaukee. Ben Danford returns from the Chicago Wolves, and Luke Sandler is back from the Rockford IceHogs. On Monday, October 1st, the Gladiators announced that 6 players had been added to the squad from the Providence Bruins. The AHL affiliate have loaned defenseman Olivier Galipeau and forward Brett McKenzie, and assigned defenseman Joel Messner to Atlanta. Sean Bonar, Zach Malatesta, and Tyler Deresky have been released from their try-outs with Providence and will report back to the Gladiators. On Tuesday, October 2nd The Milwaukee Admirals loaned forwards Tyler Moy and Carl Persson, and assigned Matt Lane to the Gladiators. The team also confirmed that Zac Sikich, Alfred Johanson, Hunter Stewart, Matt Harrington, and Robbie Hall have been released from their PTOs.

The Gladiators have been very clear in their expectations for the new season. Coach Pyle has high standards and will be aiming to go one step further than his previous tenure in charge of the team. When discussing his first stint with the Gladiators, Pyle claimed: “This place was special in my heart, I helped build it, I helped being part of a really good thing and I want to bring that back.” With the support of new team owner Dan Orlich, Pyle has every opportunity to finish what he started in Atlanta, it’s clear he’s hungry for success. The players seem to be buying into Pyle’s approach with Gladiators captain, Derek Nesbitt, claiming “I’ve known him for 14 years, he just brings a lot of positivity to the game and to the locker room, just every day it’s a fun place to be, and you get excited to be here”. It’s important for a team to have belief in the system and the early signs suggest that the players share the team’s ambition and vision for success.

It’s not long before we get to see the team in action, on Thursday, October 4th, the Gladiators will head to Greenville to take on the Swamp Rabbits in their only official preseason game against a league opponent. Training camp concludes with an intrasquad exhibition game which has been arranged for Sunday, October 7th, giving the players one last chance to impress coach Pyle as he prepares his final roster ahead of the 2018-19 season. The Gladiators start their quest for the Kelly Cup on the road against the Orlando Solar Bears on Saturday, October 13th. Keep an eye on BlackNGoldHockey.com for updates throughout the season.