Asselin Gets First Star Honors In Thrilling Victory For Bruins ECHL Affiliate

( Photo Credit: Dale Zanine / Atlanta Gladiators )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Last night the Atlanta Gladiators beat the visiting Orlando Solar Bears 5-4 in overtime at the Infinite Energy Arena. The “AA” minor-pro affiliate of the National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins are having an up and down 2019-20 regular season in the tough South Division. With this Friday night January 17th, 2020 win the Gladiators improve to a 17-20-0-0 record with 34 points and stuck in the middle of a tough division led by powerhouse South Carolina Stingrays who have a league-leading 29-5-3-1 record with 62 points in 38 games.

Regardless of the Gladiator’s struggles and 5-5-0 record in their last ten games as a team, there are certain individuals going above and beyond in an effort to get noticed by their parent American Hockey League team. One particular Gladiator player who’s having a good season in his first year of professional hockey lead his final season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in goals during the 2018-19 season as a member of the Halifax Mooseheads with 48. After this tremendous season in the highly respected QMJHL, the Boston Bruins scouting staff were close by to pounce on this undrafted player as soon as his commitment was over in the Canadian Hockey League.

Samuel Asselin

( Photo Credit: OSC Our Sports Central / )

Samuel has been a welcome addition to the Boston Bruins organization with a low-risk “show me” first two-year AHL contract in early July of 2019 which gives him the flexibility to further his development either with the Providence Bruins or lower ECHL Atlanta team. In five games that Asselin has been recalled to Providence the undrafted free agent forward has three assists but in the coast, with Atlanta, he’s a point-per-game player with 15-14-29 numbers in 29 career games.

Last night the 21-year-old Asselin notched the second hat trick of his rookie season with two goals in regulation and a heroic ending to seal the deal for his Glads club. Samuel’s point production on this night started in the first period with the primary assist on teammate Tommy Marchin’s 13th goal of the season at the 14:12 mark of the opening frame as seen below.

Asselin’s 13th goal and first in this game came at the 4:29 mark of the second period to give the Glads a 2-0 lead. The primary assist on this goal came from third-year Atlanta defenseman and Wilmington, Massachusetts native Zach Malatesta with the secondary helper going to Logan Nelson which can be seen below.

The second goal of Asselin’s Trifecta came at the 5:18 mark of the third period and a 4-3 lead in the final frame. Samuel’s 14th goal of the season went unassisted when he comes in on the right side untouched for a snipe past visiting netminder and former highly regarded goalie Zach Fucale.

Asselin’s final goal of the game and fourth point in the thrilling victory over the Solar Bears came in the extra frame as both clubs were deadlocked at four at the end of regulation. Samuel would only need 1:08 into overtime to send the Glads faithful home with a celebratory win over their South Division rival. Asselin received a behind the back pass on the cycle in the offensive zone from fellow teammate and Atlanta defenseman Joel Messner and protected the puck well working his way in-between the faceoff circles to snipe a wrister at the hash marks for the eventual game-winner and 15th goal of the season. The aforementioned Gladiators defenseman Malatesta his helper in the final Asselin goal was his second point of the night.

Asselin is sure to garner some attention from the higher Providence Bruins club if they need some more scoring help or in case one of their AHL players come down with an injury. The 5′-9″ 181-pound forward is currently on a two-game point streak and has 3-4-7 numbers in his last five games. His longest point streak in this his ECHL rookie season came from the  October 18th, 2019, to the November 8th, 2019 timeframe where he contributed 7-7-14 numbers in his first eight games in the league.

Samuel and his Gladiators club are back on the ice tonight at the North Charleston Coliseum against the league-leading South Carolina Stingrays where the Glad could extend their winning streak to two games and Asselin could push for points in three straight games. After Asselin’s first career season-long point streak he was recalled to Providence so you never know when his talents are going to be needed with the higher parent Providence team.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Prospects Podcast episode 11 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Sign Multiple Free Agents


(Photo Credit: Offical ECHL Atlanta Gladiator’s Hockey Club)

By: Ian Frazier | Follow me on Twitter @ifrazier95

The Atlanta Gladiators have been quite busy with free-agent transactions, a few of which are big-ticket players. The ECHL affiliate of the Boston Bruins opened up the league’s free agency period by hitting the market signing several players. From forwards to defense, the Gladiators made many moves to bolster their roster for the 2019-20 season.

To start, the Gladiators signed a pair of free-agent forwards Anthony Collins and Logan Nelson. These two are no strangers to playing the Gladiators since last season they both played for their rivals the Indy Fuel. Collins, a 29-year-old forward out of Langley, British Columbia is about to play in his seventh season in the ECHL and first with Atlanta. Last season with the Fuel, Collins managed to score zero goals and record one point on one assist and 94 penalty minutes in thirty-one games played. He is being brought in to be a rotational forward who will serve as a bottom-six. Nelson, the 25-year-old gritty forward out of Rogers, Minnesota, spent the beginning of last year with the Orlando Solar Bears before being traded to the Indy Fuel. He recorded 16 goals, 25 assists for 41 points in 64 games during the 2018-19 season and was also a big factor in Indy’s Kelly Cup playoff push last spring.

On defense, the Gladiators locked up a pair of their in-house free agents by re-signing Zach Malatesta and Jack Stander to new contracts. Malatesta might sound familiar as he is a Boston native and played Junior Hockey for the Boston Jr. Bruins and is now playing for Atlanta. As he begins his third season with the club, he has six goals, 27 assists for 33 points in 108 games. He was very durable last season in which he played all 72 games of the ECHL season. Stander, the 24-year-old out of Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan, played hockey at Canisius College in New York before transferring to Atlanta. Last season he scored three goals, with 12 assists totaling 15 points. Both of them are key members of the Gladiators defense, and it was imperative they get them locked up early as soon as possible.

A couple of big pieces were also added to the roster by signing defenseman Jake Flegel and forward Thomas Frazee. While Flegel returns from last year’s roster, Frazee is a big addition to the team. Flegel, the 27-year-old defenseman from Ajax in Ontario, Canada played at Adrien College in Michigan before he transferred to the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) and then the ECHL. After one game last season in the SPHL, he joined the Gladiators where he recorded three goals and added three assists for six points. Frazee, the 29-year-old forward from Vancouver, British Columbia is considered one of the bigger names on the market in ECHL free-agency this season. He was on the Gladiators during the 2015-16 season tallying 16 goals, 31 assists for 47 points in 71 games.

The following year he recorded a career-high 19 goals, with 20 assists totaling 39 points in 60 games before he went on loan to the San Antonio Rampage in the AHL. He entered the last offseason as a free agent and decided to sign back with Atlanta after fielding many offers from other teams. He put up 15 points in 12 games on 5 goals and 10 assists. Because of his dynamic ability to play as a team supporter, the Gladiators re-signed him this offseason after he tested free agency. Expect Frazee to get top-six minutes going forward in 2019-20.

The Gladiators were busy in free agency, and we will see how these players this upcoming season as the Gladiators hope to make a long postseason run after falling short of the playoffs last year.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 141 that we recorded on 8-18-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 23 Recap

( Photo Credit: Taylor Trebotte / )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 21 Preview

( Photo Credit: Taylor Trebotte / )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

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

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

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

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

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

This Week’s Gladiators To Watch:

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

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

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

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

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

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Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 20 Recap

( Photo Credit: Richard Anderson / )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 11 Recap

( Photo Credit: )

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 Preview

( Photo Credit: / Taylor Trebotte )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

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

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

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

This Week’s Gladiators To Watch:

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

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

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

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

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

Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 8 Recap

( Photo Credit: Amanda Bingham / )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

Another week over in the ECHL and yet another week of frustration for the Gladiators. One point earned from a possible four in two games against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits leaves the team bottom of the south division and 26th out of 27 teams in the league standings. After 18 games, the Gladiators are 5-10-3, with their hopes of making the playoffs all but gone. The results haven’t gone Atlanta’s way, despite some improved performances recently, wins seem so elusive for the Duluth based team.

On Friday night the Gladiators took on the Swamp Rabbits at the Infinite Energy Arena, desperate to add to their win tally. Miroslav Svoboda was given the start in net, coach Pyle showing faith after some incredible saves in recent weeks. The Gladiators capitalized on an early power play with Alex Overhardt scoring the games first goal, assisted by Zach Malatesta and Brett McKenzie. It didn’t take long for Greenville to tie the game. Five minutes after taking the lead, the Glads allowed Jon Jutzi to get the Swamp Rabbits level. The second period began with Greenville comfortably in control, and they took the lead through Brendan Harms. Towards the end of the second frame, the Gladiators found some momentum and managed to assert some pressure on the Swamp Rabbits.

Veteran forward, Derek Nesbitt, leveled the game early in the third period, making an important contribution as he often does for the Gladiators. Both teams continued to push for a game-winning goal but to no avail. The score remained tied 2-2 after 60 minutes. This was a crucial point for the Gladiators, but the job wasn’t finished. They still had to endure overtime. The spirited comeback wasn’t enough as Michael Pelech scored the winner for Greenville, a disappointing end to the game for the Gladiators who fought bravely.

After falling just short in the first game of the weekend, the Gladiators shifted their attention to the Saturday night rematch against Greenville, this time on the road. Svoboda was given the start again, and the Glads set about securing the win. Both teams exchanged plenty of shots, but the game remained scoreless through the first two periods. Four minutes into the third, Michael Pelech continued to haunt Atlanta with his second goal of the weekend, putting the Swamp Rabbits in front. Desperate to get something from the game, the Gladiators threw everything at Greenville, but they couldn’t beat netminder, Chris Nell, who held on for the shutout. With one last roll of the dice, Svoboda headed to the Atlanta bench to create a man advantage for the Glads, but it was in vain as Stephen Pierog scored an empty-netter to wrap the game up for the Swamp Rabbits. 2-0 the final score. Svoboda had an outstanding game in net for the Glads, finishing with 35 saves from 36 shots.

After the weekend games against Greenville, the gap is growing in the south division with Atlanta now trailing by six points. At this stage, it will be difficult just to get out of last place, let alone challenge for a playoff spot. It’s hard to find positives as things stand, and failing to score on Saturday doesn’t bode well for Atlanta. The Gladiators need to go back to basics, they have one of the most efficient power play units in the league and must start taking advantage of it. While the lack of goals this weekend is a problem, the defense has improved in recent games. There is still potential for this Gladiators team to succeed, though the clock is ticking.

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<—