Report: Bruins Assign Forward Koppanen To ECHL Atlanta

( Photo Credit: Finnish Junior Hockey @FINjrhockey )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Per RinksideRhodeIsland.com reporter Mark Divver and the AHL.com’s website transactions page, the Boston Bruins have assigned forward Joona Koppanen to the ECHL Atlanta Gladiators. The 21-year-old 6′-5″ 195-pound forward has only appeared in one game this season for the NHL Bruins top minor-pro affiliate Providence Bruins registering zero points and in Mark’s tweet below was in rotation for fourth-line centering duties where he was obviously overpassed by players earning more time.

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Koppanen, a Finnish born left shooting forward, has the ability to be a big presence either up the middle or on the left side but hasn’t exactly brought it offensively to the American Hockey League. Joona was selected in the fifth round of the 2016 National Hockey League Entry Draft and spent some time developing his skillset back home after being selected in the draft from Buffalo, New York. He spent two full seasons playing for the IIves organization with one season in the Jr. A SM-liiga and his second year in the higher Liiga Pro League. With the junior club, he posted 23-31-54 in 38 games playing with talent around his own age, but when he moved up to the pro league netted 2-12-14 numbers in 45 games. He left his llves club after his contract expired and joined the Providence Bruins team at the end of their 2017-18 campaign appearing in ten games and posting 2-0-2 numbers.

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Joona’s no stranger to the ECHL Atlanta club as he started the 2018-19 season appearing in seven games where he and former Boston Bruins prospect Jesse Gabrielle were assigned. Joona would eventually get the call back up to Providence after a one-point stint with the Gladiators and finished the season with 2-0-2 totals in 45 games in the higher AHL. As mentioned in Mark Divver’s Tweet above, this is a sold move to keep him game time fresh and paraphrasing here but could be given a bigger role with top 12 minutes that he might need to find a spark offensively. You have to learn to crawl before you walk, so if he gets on a roll and works hard, there’s no reason he couldn’t return to PVD after point streaking in the Coast.

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Former Bruins’ Prospect Gabrielle Is Finding His Game In Australia

(Photo Credit: AIHL)

By: Jack McCarthy  |  Follow Me On Twitter @73johnnymac

 

As the Boston Bruins and their fans begin the process of winding down from the long grind that was the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs, most will be turning their attention to summer pursuits.  As the mercury rises in New England and the hockey news becomes all about the NHL Draft, Free Agency and the off-season rumor-mill, there are still meaningful games of hockey being played in a land far, far away.  The Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL) has just completed its All-Star weekend, and its’ eight teams continue to jockey for position to compete for one of hockey’s oldest trophies, the Goodall Cup.  Boston Bruins fans would be interested to know that former Bruins prospect Jesse Gabrielle has found his way to Australia and is having a big impact.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “Why on earth do I give a darn about the Australian Ice Hockey League?  I didn’t even know they played hockey Down Under!”  You raise a good point.  As a native Canadian and die-hard Bruins fan, I once felt the exact same way.  But that was twenty years ago before I found myself on the other side of the world and the Australian Ice Hockey League was born shortly thereafter, commencing play in 2000.  The league has made tremendous strides over the past two decades, and the quality of play improves each season as well as the professionalism with which the individual clubs operate.

What is the Australian Ice Hockey League exactly?

The AIHL is the top amateur ice hockey league in Australia.  It has been described as a semi-professional league as it does contain several professional players with experience in various leagues around the world including the NHL, AHL, ECHL, as well as various European professional leagues.  AIHL players are not paid, they do however receive other forms of compensation such as the use of a vehicle, free accommodation, and their flights to and from Australia.  Some are also granted employment opportunities through club sponsors in the communities in which they play.  Each team is permitted to ice a maximum of four import players per game though they can have more than that on their roster.

The league began play with three teams in 2000 and is currently an eight-team national competition featuring three teams in New South Wales (Newcastle Northstars, Sydney Bears, and Sydney Ice Dogs), the CBR Brave located in the Australian Capital Territory, two teams in Victoria (Melbourne Ice and Melbourne Mustangs), one team in South Australia (Adelaide Adrenaline), and one team in Western Australia (Perth Thunder).  The teams play a 28-game regular season with the top four teams qualifying to compete in a weekend showdown for the Goodall Cup.  The Goodall Cup Finals feature first vs. fourth and second vs. third semi-finals with the winners meeting in a single game showdown to capture one of the oldest trophies in hockey.

So, the obvious question then is, what does the AIHL have to do with the Boston Bruins?  Why am I reading about it on a site dedicated to the interests of Bruins fans? Are there any Bruins connections to this semi-pro league in the land of kangaroos and that crazy Australian Rules football (see video below for crash course!)?  Well, the short answer is there are a few, namely some ex-Bruins or ex-Bruins prospects who have made the long journey to play hockey in Australia.

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The most recent ex-Bruin to play in the AIHL is currently making his mark on the league in a big way.  Former Bruins prospect and 2015, 4th-round pick, Jesse Gabrielle, has had a major impact since signing last month with the defending AIHL champion, CBR Brave.  Gabrielle has played just six games to date in the AIHL but has made sure the scorers are familiar with him, having tallied 16 goals and 8 assists for 24 points in those six games.  He also represented the North All-Stars in the AIHL All-Star game played in Sydney on Saturday, June 15th.  Gabrielle showed off his speed in taking out the Fastest Skater leg of the All-Star Skills Competition with a winning time of 12.97 seconds.

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The road to the AIHL for a player like 22-year-old Gabrielle is not the one he had planned on taking, to say the least.  Gabrielle skated in pre-season NHL action for the Boston Bruins as recently as this past September, and he likely didn’t envision a stop Down Under as the way he would spend this summer.  As Bruins fans would be aware, Gabrielle had an injury-interrupted season in the East Coast Hockey League with the Atlanta Gladiators and eventually on loan with the Wichita Thunder, before his entry-level contract was terminated in April with a year to run.  Gabrielle is treating the opportunity to play in Australia as a chance to re-establish himself as a capable player in the hopes of landing another contract to play in the professional ranks for the 2019-20 North American season.  Only time will tell if the move will pay dividends for Gabrielle.

One of the biggest names to ever play in the AIHL is another ex-Boston Bruin who finished his playing career in Australia with a five-game stint in the 2006 season.  A veteran of 789 NHL games, including 178 in the black and gold, Rob Zamuner scored 13 points in five games as a member of the Brisbane Blue Tongues.  His stay may have been brief, but he certainly helped lend credibility to the AIHL as a developing league at the time.

There exists a third Bruins connection to the AIHL.  Former Bruins goaltending prospect, Mike Brown, selected by Boston in the fifth round of the NHL Entry Draft in 2003, played a 17-game stint with the Canberra Knights in 2012.  Although he never played for the big club in Boston, Brown did play games at the AHL level for Providence before becoming a journeyman minor league keeper.

It’s all well and good to have a few ties to the Bruins make appearances in the AIHL, but surely nobody from Australia is good enough to play at the highest level in North America, right?  Well, actually, the growth of the game in Australia over the last two decades has seen a marked improvement in the quality of Australian players being produced, and that has stretched all the way to the National Hockey League.   Nathan Walker was drafted in the third round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft by the Washington Capitals and became the first Australian player to win the Stanley Cup in 2018.    Walker played in one game on the Caps’ playoff run and contributed an assist.  Nice to be able to say you were a point a game player in the playoffs on a Stanley Cup winner!

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Now I wouldn’t bring up Walker in this forum without a Bruins connection.  For B’s fans who may not be familiar with Walker, he is the player who, back in December, delivered the season-ending hit on Anders Bjork in an AHL tilt between the Providence Bruins and Hershey Bears.

Only time will tell how big hockey may become in Australia, but for now, the league continues to build momentum and grow at a steady rate.  For die-hard hockey fans looking for an off-season hockey fix, AIHL games are, for the most part, played on weekends and live streams are often available through individual team Facebook pages or YouTube channels.  You can also learn more about the AIHL at their website: https://theAIHL.com.   You can also follow me on Twitter @73johnnymac for regular updates on the Perth Thunder.

Check out this week’s Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast Episode 133 below!!

Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 13 Preview

( Photo Credit: Taylor Trebotte / gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

After 30 games, it’s no secret that the season hasn’t gone to plan for the Atlanta Gladiators, who currently sit at the bottom of the South Division. Head coach and GM, Jeff Pyle, has been very busy with roster changes over the new year period as he looks to improve the team’s results in 2019. Atlanta begins the year with a trip to the sunshine state, for three road games against the Florida Everblades, the second-best team in the league. Road trips don’t come much tougher than that.

The Gladiators roster will look very different by the time they take to the ice against Florida. The team has acquired rookie forward Luke Stork from the Wichita Thunder. Boston Bruins prospect, Jesse Gabrielle, was reassigned by the NHL Bruins organization to Wichita shortly after the Stork deal per information gathered from BNG writer Mark Allred in a related article that can be SEEN HERE. On new years eve, the Gladiators announced the signing of forward Joe Widmar, and traded away Bo Brauer and Sean Campbell to Worcester and Reading respectively. Goaltender Colton Phinney was removed from the active roster after deciding to step away from hockey, he has been replaced by Michael Bitzer, who joins from Rapid City. Defenseman Olivier Galipeau also returns to Atlanta on loan from the Providence Bruins.

The Gladiators head to Florida with last weeks defeat against their hosts fresh in their memory. The brutal 5-2 loss showcased the Everblades ruthlessness, they took the lead just 22 seconds into the game and never looked back. Florida does a great job of controlling the opposition and keeps the puck in the attacking zone for long periods, they are a very good team. They’ve won eight of their last 10 games and will be very confident heading into the mini-series. The Glads have lost all three games against the Everblades so far this season, which were all in Atlanta. Perhaps a change of scenery might help, or perhaps I’m just clutching at straws. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, miracles do happen.

This Week’s Gladiators To Watch:

Justin MacDonald: Seven points in his last five games including a hat-trick against the Norfolk Admirals last week, there’s no way MacDonald was going to miss the list this week. He is such an important part of the Glads offense, they will need him at his best if they are to have any success this week in Florida. He grabbed an assist in the last game against the Everblades and will be desperate to add to that.

Olivier Galipeau: After a short stint with the Providence Bruins, Olivier Galipeau is back in Atlanta. He played three games for the Glads just before Christmas, adding an assist to his tally and is currently tied for the team-lead for points by defensemen. He was handy on the power play earlier in the season for Atlanta, so his return will certainly boost the team.

Derek Nesbitt: The forward finds himself on this list again, but I simply couldn’t leave him out. The veteran has at least one point in each of his last seven games for Atlanta and remains the team’s top point scorer this season. Last week he notched his 300th point for the Gladiators. The younger players will look to him for guidance in the next few games, there aren’t many better leaders in the ECHL.

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 Prospect Gabrielle Reassigned To ECHL Wichita

( Photo Credit:  Atlanta Gladiators Instagram )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

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Yesterday there were some rumors floating around that a Boston Bruins prospect might be on the move to another team, well waking up this morning and doing my daily routine of checking the many hockey leagues transactions I indeed found a player was relocated. After Mark Divver’s tweet yesterday, B’s prospect Jesse Gabrielle was recalled after playing in 25 of 28 games this season with the Bruins “AA” minor-pro affiliate the Atlanta Gladiators. What would seem like a paper transaction this morning, the 21-year-old gritty winger was immediately reassigned by his parent National Hockey League club to the Wichita Thunder of the ECHL.

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Gabrielle was selected in the fourth round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft from Sunrise, Florida after splitting the 2014-15 season starting with the Western Hockey Leagues Brandon Wheat Kings who originally drafted him in the 2012 Bantam Draft and end the year with the Regina Pats and combining 23-21-44 numbers. In the 2015-16 campaign and the first full season under the Boston Bruins prospect umbrella, the crafty forward would have his Junior rights moved to the WHL’s Prince George Cougars where he really stretched his legs and showed promise with his creativity and increasing speed. In 72 games with the Cougars, the 5′-11″ 205-pound winger posted career-high 40-35-75 numbers including 101 penalty minutes. His points alone in his first year with Prince George had him ranked 20th in the league.  The 2016-17 year he was named as an assistant captain and contribute with 35-29-64 numbers and seemingly ready for the professional level.

The Saskatchewan, Canada native signed his entry-level contract on December 11th, 2016 and was eligible per the CHL and NHL agreement to play his first year of pro hockey closer to reaching his dream with the Providence Bruins. After paying close attention to Jesse since leaving the draft podium in 2015, this was an exciting jump for him and myself who’s watched many of his WHL games and evaluate what he could bring to the table at the AHL level. Something was off to me with the relationship from the get-go when Gabrielle played his first game in his AHL rookie year against the Springfield Thunderbirds where head coach Jay Leach was using him sparingly with minimal minutes each game. Jesse was with the Providence club for 32 games appearing in 21 of them in the 2018-18 season.

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Now, I’m not totally sure what went on and not going to mention the many theories surrounding the rumors about this topic, but I can say from what I’ve noticed and heard the two sides were like oil and water. The seemingly sour relationship between the player and organization translated in major struggles for the aspiring NHL pro while going pointless in his first 16 of 21 career AHL games and would end with 1-3-4 numbers in that timeframe. With his struggles at the AHL level, I thought for sure an assignment in the ECHL with the Gladiators team would be the next course of action for the young prodigy to create a spark in the players offensive capabilities but was shocked at the news that he was heading back to the WHL to finish the 2018-18 season.

On January 5th, 2018 Gabrielle’s rights were traded from the PC Cougars to the Regina Pats who won the bid to host the very popular Memorial Cup which celebrated its 100th year in existence later that spring. In a surprising move, he was later loaned from the Boston Bruins to the Regina club where he finished the year posting 13-6-19 numbers in 27 games and would appear in the first round of the WHL playoffs playing two games going pointless. Gabrielle would not appear in any of the 2018 Memorial Cup round-robin tournament action as he was nursing an injury sustained in the second game of the 4-3  best-of-seven series defeat to the hands of the later league champion Swift Current Broncos.

As a healthy Gabrielle tried to erase a tough 2017-18 season that certainly had it’s ups and downs as mentioned above, it wouldn’t get any easier as both sides continued to butt heads. Gabrielle mentioned in a Rinkside Rhode Island Article from website founder/writer Mark Divver back in late September of 2018 during an interview at camp that he was not contacted by Bruins management to participate in the team’s four-day development camp in late June of 2018 and not a word was spoken about Septembers rookie camp which a majority was spent in Buffalo, New York for the fourth annual Prospects Challenge. Jesse mentioned that the Bruins finally contacted him via “text” to report to Providence for their camp and go from there.

Seriously my friends! If you did not click that link from Divver’s article, I highly recommend you do for factual reasons for why I got the idea to publish this post in the first place. You can also just CLICK HERE

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As any prospect under contract would do, Gabrielle reported but would be released along with fellow forward prospect Joona Koppanen to report to the Atlanta club in the ECHL where he most recently played. If anyone needs to know, the ECHL Wichita Thunder is the “AA” minor-pro affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers and a direct affiliate of the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors.  The Wichita team is in action for two games this weekend starting tonight at the Thunder’s home InTrust Bank Arena as they host the Kansas City Mavericks and tomorrow night when the Tulsa Oilers visit. The Monday New Years Eve game will be played on the road in Kansa City, and it’s not out of the realm for Bruins prospect Gabrielle to get into any of these three matchups mentioned above.

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Regardless of where Jesse plays, he’s in year two of his current three-year entry-level contract, and it certainly seems like both sides would like to part ways and create a little distance from each other with a move like this. Of course, it remains to be seen what the outcome and the thought process will be moving forward with this prospect that has the skills to be a solid pro anywhere on any level.  Also wanted to mention that this article is not to trash the player as I did not mention some of the many things heard because of unconfirmed reports, but I will say that if there is, in fact, an issue with this talented individual, I hope he can find out what that speed bump is in his progression moving forward to succeed in his life goals. I’m also not calling out an organization for potentially playing a heavy role in all the speculation but its newsworthy in my opinion.

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Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 12 Preview

( Photo Credit: Taylor Trebotte / gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

After taking a short break for Christmas, the Atlanta Gladiators are back in action this week with three more games before the end of the year. They will take on the Florida Everblades before two back-to-back games against the Norfolk Admirals. The Gladiators will be looking to build on their dominant 4-0 win over the Jacksonville Icemen last week, which ended their 10 game slide. With their record standing at 6-15-5-1, the Glads will be hoping for positive results for them to build on in the new year.

Last week, the Gladiators benefited from the return of Olivier Galipeau. The defenseman contributed an assist and a +3 rating on his return to Atlanta. After a short stint with the team, he was recalled to the Providence Bruins. After a long-awaited home debut, former NHL forward, Jared Ross, was released from the active roster according to echl.com. It’s unclear whether he will feature again for Atlanta, as he had been released from and then re-added to the Glads roster before last weeks games.

On Thursday night, the Florida Everblades will visit the Infinite Energy Arena to challenge the Gladiators. After a steady start to the season, the Blades have found their groove and currently top the South Division, after winning eight of their last 10 games. Atlanta has struggled against the Everblades since the playoff series last year, where they were beaten in four straight contests. The two teams have played twice already this season, with Florida winning both games, 6-3 and 8-3 respectively. One thing is for sure, Atlanta will have to be better defensively when the puck drops. Playing at home will help the Glads, but this will be a difficult game. That being said, miracles do happen.

After the Florida game, the Gladiators will finish 2018 with two home contests against the Norfolk Admirals, on Saturday and Sunday. The Admirals have been struggling lately, like Atlanta, they only have one win in their last 10 games. Glads fans will be pleased to learn that surprisingly, Atlanta has actually earned more points in their last 10 games than the Admirals. In the five games between the two teams this season, Norfolk edge the series 3-2, but the Gladiators have a good chance of turning that round on home ice. They proved that they are capable with the win against Jacksonville, and good results against the Admirals would be a great platform to start the new year. I think these two games will be close, but home advantage should give the Gladiators the edge.

This Week’s Gladiators To Watch:

Derek Nesbitt: I’ve lost count of how many times Nesbitt has made this list already, but the veteran forward has been on fire recently. With five points (2g, 3a) in his last four games, the Canadian has established himself as the team’s top scorer. Always leading by example, you simply cannot count him out.

Nick Bligh: After joining the team recently, the third-year-pro didn’t take long to contribute. He has four points (2g, 2a) in his last four games and will want to maintain his point per game output for as long as he can. The Gladiators offense was in need of a spark before he arrived, now he’s thriving in Atlanta.

Jesse Gabrielle: After a four-game point drought, the Boston Bruins prospect grabbed two goals against the Icemen last week. The controversial forward did a great job of getting under the skin of the Jacksonville players and had the last laugh with his empty-netter in the 4-0 win. He reminded me somewhat of Brad Marchand with the way he frustrated the opposition, he will be worth watching 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 <–

Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 11 Recap

( Photo Credit: gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

The Atlanta Gladiators head into the Christmas break full of confidence after snapping their ten-game losing streak. The players really gave the fans something to cheer about with strong performances in back to back home games this week. With 27 games into the 2018-19 campaign, the Glads record is 6-15-5-1 and sit second to last in the ECHL with 18 points. The season hasn’t gone according to plan, but with key players back in the fold, the Gladiators have a foundation to build on in the new year.

The first of three back to back home games began on Wednesday night when the Greenville Swamp Rabbits came to town. Colton Phinney was given the start in goal to begin the homestand for Atlanta. The Glads were pressured early on, but they successfully killed two penalties before Brett McKenzie fired them into the lead with a power-play goal. Atlanta held the lead until four minutes into the second period, when Tomas Ebbing leveled for Greenville.

Both teams exchanged shots but there were no more goals in the frame. After the second interval, Nick Bligh put Atlanta ahead just 33 seconds after the puck dropped, assisted by Olivier Galipeau. The Gladiators were unable to add to their tally before two quick goals from John May and Will Merchant put Greenville up 3-2. Despite dominating the closing minutes, Atlanta was unable to tie the game and the Swamp Rabbits took the two points.

Thursday night the Glads faced the Jacksonville Icemen for the first of two games between the sides. Sean Bonar was given the start in net and Glads set about ending their 10 game slide. The Atlanta power play looked better with Olivier Galipeau back in the team, but they were unable to beat Jacksonville’s penalty kill. The Glads finally got the break-through in the second period, when Derek Nesbitt slotted home, assisted by NHL veteran Jared Ross.

Jack Stander doubled the Gladiators lead with his first professional goal before Zach Malatesta completed the second-period demolition with Atlanta’s third goal of the night. Jacksonville threw everything they had at the Glads in the final period. They pulled goalie Mikhail Berdin to get an extra skater on the ice, which allowed Jesse Gabrielle to put Atlanta ahead 4-0, ending the game in style. It was a complete performance from the Gladiators. Not only was it the teams first win in nearly a month, but they recorded a shutout in the process.

The stage was set for the Friday night rematch with Jacksonville and what a great game it was. Atlanta kept their faith in Sean Bonar who took his spot in the crease. The Icemen controlled the early exchanges but the Gladiators took the lead through Justin MacDonald. Atlanta looked more comfortable after the goal but the Icemen kept up the pressure, Kris Newbury managed to find the net just 10 seconds before the end of the first period, 1-1 the score at the break. The second period was barely under-way before Jacksonville snagged the lead through Garrett Ladd. Coach Pyle ensured the Glads kept their heads up.

Minutes later Atlanta was awarded a power play, Jesse Gabrielle took full advantage and tied the game with his second goal of the week. 15 seconds later Nick Bligh gave Atlanta the lead, capping off a wild three minutes. For the second night in a row, the Icemen through everything at the Glads, eventually tying the game with another goal from Kris Newbury. Atlanta responded well, forcing saves from Tanner Jaillet before Maxime Fortier scored what would be the winning goal for Jacksonville. The played well throughout the third period but couldn’t find another goal, the game finished 4-3 to Jacksonville.

The Gladiators can enjoy some time off to rest and reflect before they’re back in action next week to finish 2018. The win will give them a huge confidence boost, they’ve been playing well for some time and they’ve proved that they’re capable of competing in the South Division. The playoffs hopes are all but gone, but the team finally has a foundation to build on for the rest of the season. All that remains is for me to wish you a very merry Christmas Glads fans, enjoy yourselves.

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 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: Gladiators Week 6 Preview

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( Photo credit: atlantagladiators.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

After a tough road trip last week, the Gladiators begin a two-week homestand on Friday night when they take on the Norfolk Admirals, a team they’ve got to know pretty well recently, before back to back games against the Florida Everblades on Saturday and Sunday. It’s no secret that the Gladiators have struggled so far this season, particularly defensively. Coach Pyle now has a chance to rally the troops and try to build some momentum with a stretch of games at the Infinite Energy Arena. There’s certainly work to do to get the team into playoff contention.

Defenseman Olivier Galipeau has been recalled to the Providence Bruins which will hurt the Gladiators power play. So far he’s the teams highest scoring defenseman having contributed nine points so far on the season. Given the Boston Bruins injury problems, it’s possible that Olivier has been called to Providence as cover and that he will return to Atlanta at some point. The Gladiators announced the signing of defenseman Faiella in replacement for Galipeau.

Forward Justin MacDonald has been activated from reserve and replaces Brandon Troock who has been placed on reserve. New signing Eric Freschi is active on the roster and will look to hit the ice running. There hasn’t been much news about Brett McKenzie who was helped off the ice on Tuesday with what looked like a knee injury, so it’s unclear if he will feature this weekend or not. I would expect netminding duty to be split by Miroslav Svoboda and Colton Phinney.

If we can expect anything from the first game of the weekend, it’s goals, lots of them. The last three games between the Gladiators and the Norfolk Admirals have produced 19 scores. Both teams are capable of winning but with home advantage, the Gladiators will be targeting two points. The Admirals currently sit second in the south division, seven points above Atlanta, a gap the Glads will have to reduce in order to make the postseason.

On Saturday night the Gladiators take on the Florida Everblades for the first of two games against the divisional rivals. It’s the first time the teams have met competitively since the Everblades dumped the Glads out of the playoffs last season. So far the Everblades have been a far cry from the team that went to game seven of the Kelly Cup finals last year, the Gladiators will be out for revenge. Whether or not the Glads can overcome last years thrashing remains to be seen, but you can bet your bottom dollar that coach Pyle will have had the Florida games circled on his calendar for a long time. History tells us there will be no love lost between the teams, these games could get ugly.

This Week’s Gladiators To Watch:

Derek Nesbitt: With Two goals and an assist in his last two games, the veteran is finding some good form after a steady start to the season. He’s been a dependable asset to the Gladiators for years and sets high standards for his teammates. A true leader, he will be determined to score against the Everblades.

Ben Danford: The third-year defenseman has contributed eight valuable assists in his 11 games already this season. With Galipeau returning to Providence the Gladiators need someone to step up on the power play, I believe that he is the man to do it. A player who’s certainly not shy of moving into the attacking zone, his 10 goals last season prove he’s capable of stepping up for the Glads.

Jesse Gabrielle: With eight points in his 10 games for the Gladiators, the Boston Bruins prospect is starting to prove the critics wrong. He is a technically gifted skater and looks to have settled into the team well, given the doubts about his attitude in previous seasons. With injuries happening in both Boston and Providence, he’ll be focused on impressing his peers in Atlanta, in a make or break season for the young forward.

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Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Gladiators Week 3 Preview

( Photo Credit: Dale Zanine / gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

After thrashing the Greenville Swamp Rabbits 4-1 on Friday, the Gladiators were humbled to their first defeats of the season at the hands of the Orlando Solar Bears and the South Carolina Stingrays, leaving them 2-2-0 for the season. After scoring 8 goals in their first 2 games, the Gladiators could only manage 1 in games 3 and 4, head coach Jeff Pyle will be working hard this week to ensure the team get back to winning ways.

The head coach/GM has been busy with players joining and leaving. So far Carl Persson had been loaned back to the Gladiators after a short stint with the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL, Zach Magwood was recalled to his parent club in exchange. Persson featured for the Gladiators earlier on in the season, registering an assist before being reclaimed by the Admirals. Goaltender Mirolsav Svoboda was recalled by Nashville after impressing in his 2 appearances for Atlanta, the Glads signed Ian Sylves in replacement. Jeff Pyle, keen to bolster the defence, traded future considerations for Defenseman Sean Campbell and signed Jake Flegel. Forward Darby Llewellyn was traded to the Rapid City Rush for future considerations, Tyler Moy and Joel Messner were also reassigned to Milwaukee and Providence respectively. In other roster news, forward Nolan LaPorte is back in the team from IR.

The Gladiators are currently 4th in the south division heading into the 3rd week of the season. The first of 2 road games this week takes place tonight, Thursday October 25th, as Atlanta face the Jacksonville Icemen, the only undefeated team remaining in the Southern bracket. The Icemen have looked strong in their opening games, but the Gladiators have the added incentive of ending Jacksonville’s unbeaten run, making this game an intriguing one. The Gladiators will have a chance to regroup on Friday before a Saturday night showdown against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits where they will look to replicate their previous result against them, a 4-1 win. Greenville are currently bottom of the division and will be determined to bounce back in front of a home crowd. Despite a slow start, the Swamp Rabbits have a talented roster and will be out for revenge. There’s never an easy game in the ECHL.

This Week’s Players To Watch:

Jesse Gabrielle: The young man looked impressive in his first game for the Gladiators, scoring a goal and combining well with fellow Bruins prospect Joona Koppanen. The spotlight is on the forward after falling out of favour in Providence, he has a great chance to redeem himself in Atlanta and so far has looked determined. There’s no question he has the talent to be a top ECHL forward, enjoy him while you can.

Branden Troock: He played like a man possessed in the 4-1 demolition of Greenville last week, after being kept out by some incredible saves, the 2nd year Gladiator scored a well deserved goal. If he can maintain that enthusiasm this week, teams will do well to keep him from adding to his 3 point tally for the season.

Derek Nesbitt: The Gladiators leader has shown no signs of slowing down. He’s already bagged himself 3 assists in 4 this season, making him the second all-time franchise assist leader. Arguably the most consistent forward on the team so far this campaign, I expect that trend to continue into week 3 and beyond.

Bruins ECHL Affiliate Update: Busy Week In Atlanta

( Photo Credit: orlandosentinel.com / Gary Bassing )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

Atlanta began the season on the road to the Orlando Solar Bears, after a wild 6 goal 2nd period, the Gladiators won the contest 4-2. The game was scoreless until Matt Lane opened the floodgates in the 2nd frame, his first goal for Atlanta, assisted by Tyler Moy. The Gladiators doubled their lead during a power play when Moy himself tucked home a pass from Derek Nesbitt. The Solar Bears leveled the game with 2 short-handed goals just 23 seconds apart, the Gladiators punished for letting their foot off the gas, allowing the Orlando back into the contest. After a brief melee between the players, the Gladiators capitalized on the power play twice more with Olivier Galipeau and Joel Messner scoring their first professional goals and restoring the Gladiators 2 goal lead. The Solar Bears were unable to threaten Atlanta in the 3rd period, and the Gladiators left the Amway Center with the victory and importantly 2 points.

It’s been a busy week already for head coach and GM Jeff Pyle, with some changes to the roster. Boston Bruins prospect forwards Jesse Gabrielle and Joona Koppanen have been loaned to the team from Providence while forward Andrew Schmit was signed to a professional contract. Earlier today, Tuesday, October 16th, the Gladiators announced that forward Matt Lane was recalled by the Milwaukee Admirals in exchange for Zach Magwood who joins the Gladiators on loan. The team also confirmed the departure of Darby Llewellyn who joins the Rapid City Thunder in a trade for future considerations.

Jesse Gabrielle joins after falling out of favor in Providence, the 21-year-old will be determined to prove himself in Atlanta and brings bags of potential to the Gladiators. Koppanen will start his first full season as a pro and some time in the ECHL will allow him to adjust to the American ice. He did manage to score a pair of goals for the Providence Bruins after featuring for them late last season. Andrew Schmit will provide some grit and experience to the Gladiators roster after representing the Indy Fuel and Wheeling Nailers last year.

The Gladiators have a busy weekend ahead of them with 3 back to back divisional games starting on Friday at home to the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. On Saturday night the Orlando Solar Bears head to Duluth in search of revenge from game 1 and the Gladiators will be on the road against the South Carolina Stingrays on Sunday. After a strong result last week the Glads will look to carry that form into these 3 games. Divisional games always have an added intensity, so these games promise excitement. The influx of talent from Providence will certainly be a boost to the team, and coach Pyle will hope that the new players can settle into the squad quickly and start contributing right away.

This Week’s Players To Watch:

Tyler Moy: The Nashville Predators prospect bagged himself a goal and assist in game 1, and the 23-year-old looked solid on his ECHL debut. The California native will be looking to bounce back from a fairly disappointing season in the AHL last year. An absolute menace in the attacking third, expect some points from him this weekend.

Miroslav Svoboda: In his first game for the Gladiators, Svoboda saved 30 out of 32 shots and looked comfortable for most of the game. He made some very good stops to keep the Glads ahead. Another Predators prospect on the Glads roster, he will certainly look to make an impression much like Providence Bruins goaltender Dan Vladar did last season.

Olivier Galipeau: He was on my radar last week and will be on it again heading into the weekend. The defenseman had a solid outing for the Gladiators last week picking up both a goal and assist on his professional debut. He looked particularly threatening on the power play, and his long-range effort against the Solar Bears would have troubled any goaltender. The Bruins prospect looked sharp and will be a constant threat with opponents in the penalty box.