Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 19 Preview

( Photo Credit: Taylor Trebotte / gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

The Gladiators fly into week 19 on the back of their longest ever point streak of 13 games. They face a new challenge this week, the Newfoundland Growlers of the North Division, followed by a visit from Greenville and a trip to South Carolina. Atlanta is level on points with the Norfolk Admirals and will be looking for good results this week to continue the surge up the South Division standings.

No roster changes this week, though it is worth mentioning that forward Justin MacDonald was named ECHL Player of the Week on Tuesday. He put in some huge performances last week, scoring three goals, including an overtime winner against the Stingrays, and made five assists, all in just four games. He now has 12 points in his last seven games for the Gladiators, and 32 points in 33 games this season. His Player of the Week award was fully deserved.

Atlanta takes on the Newfoundland Growlers on Thursday night. The game was originally scheduled for Wednesday but was delayed due to bad weather. It is the Growlers inaugural season in the ECHL, and they have been impressive so far. They currently top the North Division and are the third-best team in the league heading into the game. Newfoundland will be the first non-divisional opponent the Glads face this season, and it will be a tough test. It is a difficult game to call, but Atlanta is full of confidence and playing at home, giving them a huge advantage.

On Friday night, the Glads take on the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. Greenville snapped a long losing streak against the Gladiators last week with an overtime win. Atlanta will be desperate for revenge. There is always high intensity when these two rivals play each other, but the Gladiators should be confident heading into this one.

The Glads will finish the week with a trip to South Carolina. They beat the Stingrays twice last week, though both games went to overtime. In fact, five of the games between these two teams this season have gone to overtime. It is almost always a close game, home ice will be an advantage for the Stingrays, but Atlanta knows they can win in South Carolina. This will be a close one, but the Glads will be the favorites.

This Week’s Gladiators To Watch:

Justin MacDonald: It would be hard not to include the ECHL Player of the Week in this list. His performances last week were immense and he’s been in impressive form for some time now. If he maintains this level of production then the AHL could come calling, he is that good. Definitely, one to watch this week.

Nolan LaPorte: The third-year forward finds his place on this list for the second week in a row. With four goals in four games last week, how could he not? He has scored some big goals for Atlanta this season and that is likely to continue. Keep an eye on him this week.

Sean Bonar: The goaltender has been the backbone of Atlanta’s revival. Arguably the most consistent player on the team since the new year, he’s been nothing short of brilliant. He won a pile of awards in January and is set to do the same this month. Very dependable and fun to watch.

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 18 Recap

( Photo Credit: Taylor Trebotte / gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

The Gladiators march to the playoffs continues after another record-breaking week. Three wins and an overtime loss extends the teams unbeaten run to a franchise-record 13 games. Atlanta has moved up to fifth in the South Division standings and only six points behind the playoff places.

Week 18 began with a trip to Greenville to take on the struggling Swamp Rabbits. After a disappointing opening period, the Glads trailed 2-0 at the break courtesy of goals from Michael Pelech and Luke Ripley. Atlanta recovered well in the second period and tied the score with goals from Daniel Leavens and Alex Overhardt. The game was evenly poised heading into the final frame. As the minutes ticked by, the Gladiators took the lead with a goal from Derek Nesbitt. It looked like Atlanta had secured the win before Jake Bolton scored for the hosts in the final moments, sending the game into overtime. After a nervous couple of minutes, Kamerin Nault netted the winner for the Swamp Rabbits, 4-3 the final score.

With Greenville out of the way, the South Carolina Stingrays were in town for the first of two back to back games at the Infinite Energy Arena. Atlanta established a comfortable lead with first period goals from Avery Peterson and Brett McKenzie. The home team continued to extend their lead in the second period, with Justin MacDonald and Olivier Galipeau finding the net. The struggling Stingrays found their first goal of the night in the final minute of the second when Grant Besse scored to make it 4-1 after two.

The game was all but over heading into the final frame of regulation, but the visitors hadn’t given up hope. Patrick Gaul put the puck in the net just 12 seconds into the third period to keep the game alive. Two more goals in quick succession from Matt Pohlkamp and Tim Harrison tied the game at 4-4, much to the frustration of Atlanta coach Jeff Pyle. Derek Nesbitt restored the hosts lead but in the final minute of the third, Tim Davison pulled the Stingrays level, sending the game to overtime. After dominating the first two periods, the Gladiators were determined to finish the job. Brett McKenzie sealed the two points with his second goal of the night, much to the relief of coach Pyle, 6-5 the final score.

With South Carolina out for revenge, the stage was set for the rematch. Joseph Widmar scored the only goal of the first period, giving Atlanta the lead at the first intermission. After the break, Stingrays forward, Grant Besse, continued his impressive form against the Glads and tied the game 1-1 in the second period. Both teams had chances but neither side could find a second goal before the end of the third. Atlanta went into overtime for the third straight game. It only took 31 seconds for Justin MacDonald to save the day for the hosts, a fully deserved win for the home team, 2-1 the final score.

After the intense double-header against the Stingrays, the Glads took on the Norfolk Admirals for their fourth and final game of the week. Atlanta started the game well, but it was the hosts that lead after the first period, thanks to a goal from Matt McMorrow. Despite out-shooting their opponents, the Gladiators could not find the net until Nolan LaPorte buried the puck just before the end of the second period. 1-1 the score after two.

After the interval, Atlanta took the lead with a power-play goal from Nick Bligh. After some early frustration, the floodgates had finally opened and the goals started to flow for the visitors. Justin MacDonald scored the Gladiators third shortly before Nolan LaPorte tallied his second of the night, completing the comeback. 4-1 the final score.

It was another impressive week for the Gladiators who have been on fire since the new year. Justin MacDonald had a huge week scoring three goals and adding five assists. He was named ECHL player of the week. It is great to see individual players recognized, but more importantly, the team is playing well and getting good results. It seemed impossible back in December, but Atlanta has finally become a playoff contender.

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 15 Recap

( Photo Credit: Taylor Trebotte / gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

The Atlanta Gladiators are on their best run this season. Three victories this week extend their winning streak to five games. The Glads have now won seven of their last 10 games and closed the gap on the Greenville Swamp Rabbits to just one point. This is by far the Gladiators best spell of the season, and they are finally starting to lift themselves off the bottom of the standings.

The weekend began with two back to back road games against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. The Gladiators started Sean Bonar between the pipes for game one and set about closing the gap on their South Division rivals. Greenville had far more shots in the first period, but Atlanta weathered the storm, and the game remained scoreless heading into the first intermission.

Matt Lane opened the scoring for Atlanta eight minutes into the second period. He was assisted by Luke Stork and Alex Overhardt. The Glads continued to attack, and it wasn’t long before Stork doubled Atlanta’s lead with a goal of his own, assisted by Lane and Zach Malatesta. 2-0 the score at the end of the second.

The Swamp Rabbits started the third period well, but once again Atlanta stood firm. Halfway through the third, forward Brett McKenzie carried the puck into Greenville’s zone and rifled a shot into the net to seal the game for the Gladiators. Bonar finished with 30 saves and a shutout. It was a good team performance and a well deserved 3-0 win for Atlanta.

The stage was set nicely for game two of the weekend, a rematch against the same opponents. Bonar was given the start again after his strong showing the night before. After an even start to the game, Joseph Widmar gave Atlanta the lead in the closing stages of the first period with his first ECHL goal, assisted by Nick Bligh.

As the second period got underway, the Gladiators continued to torment the Swamp Rabbits and doubled their lead with a goal from defenseman Jake Flegal, assisted by McKenzie and Nolan LaPorte. Despite the Glads two-goal lead, the game was far from over. Brendan Harms managed to pull one back for the hosts late in the second, giving them momentum heading into the third period. Greenville gave everything in the final frame, but the Gladiators defended well and were able to hold on for a 2-1 win.

After grabbing two wins on the road, the Gladiators returned home to face the Jacksonville Icemen for the third and final game of the week. After giving up just one goal in the two games against Greenville, Bonar was given remained in net Atlanta. The Gladiators created a lot more chances than the Icemen in the opening frame but were unable to find the net. Despite their best efforts, the first period ended scoreless.

As the second period began, the Gladiators continued to out-shoot their opponents, but it was the visitors that took the lead with a power-play goal from Cody Fowlie. The Glads had to dig deep and eventually tied the game with a power-play goal of their own. Justin MacDonald, the scorer, assisted by Widmar and Joel Messner. The score remained 1-1 until the end of regulation, taking the game to overtime.

Both teams had chances in overtime, but neither side could find the winning goal, taking the game to a shootout. Forward Nick Bligh stepped up and slotted home for the Gladiators with a neat finish. Then it was over to Bonar who made three great saves to secure the win, much to the relief of the fans.

After a string of outstanding games for Atlanta, Sean Bonar was named the ECHL Goaltender of the Week. He made 80 saves in his last three games, earned a shutout and stopped all three shots in the shootout against the Icemen. He’s in incredible form and fully deserves the award.

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 14 Recap

( Photo Credit: Amanda Bingham / gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

It’s been a long time since the Atlanta Gladiators had a perfect weekend, but the wait is finally over. A strong performance on the road followed by a record-breaking night at home has lifted Atlanta to 10 wins on the season. With five wins in their last 10 games,  the Glads are starting to close the gap on the rest of the South Division.

Week 14 began with a trip to South Carolina to take on the Stingrays. Sean Bonar started in net for the Glads following strong performances since returning from injury. Atlanta out-shot the Stingrays 12-3 in the first period, but the game remained scoreless heading into the first intermission. Three minutes into the second period, Matt Pohlkamp put the home side ahead with a power play goal. The Gladiators responded positively, and Derek Nesbitt tied the game with an even strength goal, assisted by Nick Bligh. Atlanta continued to out-shoot their opponent and took the lead minutes later, with score from Justin MacDonald, assisted by Brett McKenzie and Nolan LaPorte. The teams headed into the locker rooms with the Gladiators leading 2-1.

The home side were much improved in the third period, and leveled the game with an equal strength goal by Tim Harrison, taking the game to overtime. The Gladiators had secured a point, but they weren’t finished. They were denied five times before forward Nick Bligh broke away for the game-winning goal. The Glads out-shot the ‘Rays 6-1 in overtime and fully deserved their 3-2 win.

The Glads returned home to take on the Jacksonville Icemen in front of a record crowd on Saturday night, thanks to the annual teddy bear toss. It took less than two minutes for Nick Bligh to open the scoring for Atlanta, sending thousands of bears flying onto the ice. He was assisted by Joseph Widmar and Derek Nesbitt. Moments later, the Glads doubled their lead with a short-handed goal, Bligh’s second of the night, assisted by LaPorte and Chatham. Cody Fowlie pulled one back for Jacksonville, before Bligh completed his hat-trick with a power play goal in the 15th minute, assisted by Messner and Nesbitt.

It was Derek Nesbitt’s 358th game for the Gladiators, a franchise record. The veteran forward celebrated in style, notching Atlanta’s fourth score of the night, assisted by Chatham and Widmar. Bligh continued to torment the Icemen and scored his fourth goal of the period, assisted by Widmar. The Glads led 5-1 after an incredible 20 minutes of hockey.

Jacksonville began the second period with a power play goal from Cam Maclise. The frantic game calmed down for a while, before Derek Nesbitt grabbed his second of the night, assisted by Luke Stork, restoring the Glads four-goal lead before the second intermission. There wasn’t much action in the final frame, Jacob Cederholm scored for the Icemen, but the game was all but over. Sean Bonar finished with 38 saves from 41 shots, 6-3 the final score.

It was a memorable night for the Gladiators organization. The crowd of 9,971 was the biggest of the season and the team collected a record of 6,072 teddy bears for children in need. There’s a lot of positives for coach Pyle and his team moving forward. Next week they take on the Greenville Swamp Rabbits in back to back road games, let’s hope this run continues.

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 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<—

–> 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<—

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

Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 10 Recap

( Photo Credit: orlandosentinel.com / Fernando Medina )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

It was another difficult week for the injury-ravaged Atlanta Gladiators, after three more defeats, their winless run has extended to nine games. Despite missing a number of important players, the Glads fought bravely and were able to pick up 2 points from the road trip, coming agonizingly close to a win. After 24 games played, their record stands at 5-13-5-1, and they remain at the bottom of the South Division.

On Wednesday night, the Gladiators traveled to South Carolina to take on the Stingrays. It was the third game between the two teams in just five days. Sean Bonar was given the start between the pipes for Atlanta and looked confident in the early stages. The game remained scoreless until Cameron Askew put the Stingrays ahead mid-way through the second period. Andrew Cherniwchan doubled South Carolina’s lead just 12 seconds into the third frame and the Gladiators were staring down the familiar barrel of defeat. That was until Tyler Deresky wrestled Atlanta level with two fantastic goals, taking the game into overtime and securing a much-needed point for the Gladiators. Both teams were unable to add to the score, sending the game to a shootout. After a valiant display, the Glads fell 2-1 in the shootout. The team fought hard with many skaters playing out of position to cover injuries.

The Gladiators faced the Jacksonville Icemen on Friday night for the second game of the road trip. Colton Phinney was given the start in goal and was tested early on. He was eventually beaten when Kris Newbury put the Icemen ahead with a power-play goal. The first period ended 1-0 to Jacksonville. At the start of the second, Glads forward David Mazurek pounced on a mistake from Icemen netminder, Tanner Jaillet, and tied the score at 1-1. The rest of the contest was uneventful for the most part, and for the second game in a row, overtime was required to decide the winner. Kris Newbury stepped up and doubled his tally for the night, condemning the Glads to their eighth consecutive defeat. Once again, a fine effort to secure a point considering the injury situation.

The third and final game of the week took place on Sunday afternoon at the Amway Center, as the Glads took on the Orlando Solar Bears. It was the long-awaited return of forward Justin MacDonald who was in good form before getting injured a few weeks back. Sean Bonar was given the start as both teams exchanged shots in the early stages. The Solar Bears capitalized on an ugly turnover from Atlanta, creating a two-on-one opportunity which was tucked into the net by Mitch Hults. The Glads enjoyed a nice spell of offense in the second period but they couldn’t beat Martin Ouellette in the Orlando goal. In the final minute of the second, Dylan Fritze put the Solar Bears 2-0 up and the game was as good as over. Derek Nesbitt scored in the third period to keep Atlanta’s hopes alive, but Orlando was able to hold on for the win. 2-1 the final score.

The Gladiators fought hard this week but it’s no secret that the team is suffering from injuries and AHL call-ups. The defense seems to have stepped up and it’s encouraging to see Bonar and Phinney playing well in the absence of Miroslav Svoboda. The Glads have three games in three days coming up before the Christmas break, a win will be on all of our lists for Santa, I’m certainly hoping for a Christmas miracle.

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 6 Recap

( Photo Credit: Amanda Bingham / gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

This weekend the Gladiators were joined by 10-year-old Ethan McClean, who traveled all the way from Ballymena, Northern Ireland thanks to the ‘Dreams Come True’ organization. Ethan is a passionate Belfast Giants fan who has been diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a painful and terminal disease. It was great to see Ethan enjoy his time with the team, who welcomed him into the Atlanta Gladiators family. I hope he and his loved ones have a safe trip home and wish the best of luck to the Belfast Giants.

On the ice, the Gladiators defensive woes continued, and after a disappointing weekend, the team finds themselves bottom of the south division with a mountain to climb if they are to get their playoff hopes back on track. Three consecutive home defeats leave the team with a 4-8-2 record after 14 games. It’s no secret that the team isn’t anywhere near their potential at this stage of the season, fortunately, there’s still plenty of time for them to steady the ship and make their way up the south division standings.

On Friday night, the Gladiators took on the Norfolk Admirals. I mentioned in the week 6 preview that this game promised goals, and it delivered. After a goalless first period, new signing Garret Ross opened the scoring just four minutes into the second. The Admirals quickly responded through Jacob Graves and at 1-1, both teams looked evenly matched. The Gladiators edged in front with goals from Nolan LaPorte and Alex Overhardt before Domenic Alberga reduced the lead to a single goal, the second period ended with the Gladiators leading 3-2. Atlanta’s lead lasted five minutes into the final period with Daniel Maggio tying the game at 3-3. The Gladiators struggled to generate any more scoring chances, and the Admirals completed the comeback with two more goals from Alberga, who finished the night with a hat-trick, 5-3 the final score.

There was no time to mourn the loss to the Admirals, with the Gladiators back in action on Saturday against the Florida Everblades, the team that dumped them out of the playoffs last year (in case you needed reminding). Despite a slow start to the season, the Everblades picked up where they left off against Atlanta, taking a 2-0 lead with Joe Cox and Nathan Perkovich both scoring. Hopes for the Gladiators to start the second period strongly were dashed when Derek Sheppard put Florida three goals ahead just 18 seconds after the puck dropped. Nolan LaPorte finally got the Glads on the board with his second goal of the weekend, one of the few positives for Atlanta. The third period was the most exciting of the game, both teams combined for five goals, Jordon Southorn, John McCarron and David Friedmann scoring for Florida, and Alex Overhardt and Justin MacDonald for the Gladiators. The game ended 6-3.

The six goals Atlanta conceded on Saturday were the most they had conceded in a single game so far this season, that was until they played the Everblades again on Sunday afternoon. Seconds after the puck dropped, Atlanta’s Tyler Howe dropped the gloves and went toe-to-toe with Florida’s Mitch Vandergunst in an effort to inspire his team. It seemed to have the desired effect. After peppering the Florida net with shots, the Gladiators took an early lead as Justin MacDonald found the net for the second time in two games. The score remained 1-0 for the remainder of the first, despite creating a number of chances, the Gladiators couldn’t add to their lead.

The first period was a success, however, the second was an absolute disaster. The Gladiators were blown away by six Florida goals, yes six. Zach Nastasiuk and Blake Winiecki put Florida ahead before Joe Cox added two of his own. A goal each from Jordon Southorn and Tommy Thompson completed the second-period demolition. Battling for pride in the final period of the weekend, Derek Nesbitt pulled one back for the Glads, but seconds later Winiecki scored another for Florida. Ben Danford found the net for Atlanta, but the misery continued, Kyle Platzer scored shortly after for the Everblades and the game finished 8-3.

The Gladiators have looked decent offensively recently. Scoring three goals in each of the last three games shows consistency, but defensively the team has a lot of work to do. Conceding 19 goals in three games is disastrous at any level, especially when playing at home. The numbers could have been worse, goalies Miroslav Svoboda and Colton Phinney combined for 110 saves last weekend. Moving forward the defense must improve. The Gladiators do get a chance to redeem themselves on Wednesday when they face the  Greenville Swamp Rabbits. Surely the only way is up from here.

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<—