Atlanta Gets 4-3 Road Win in Greenville
Greenville opened the scoring on the night halfway through the opening frame. Rob Kwiet sent a cross-ice pass that went off a skate in front of the net and then slid past Gladiators goalie Andy Iles. The former Gladiator gave the Swamp Rabbits the 1-0 lead, and notched his second goal of the season on the powerplay, while Darian Dziurzynski was credited with his fifth assist.
Eric Neiley tied the game at one for the Gladiators with 4:21 left in the first period. The rookie notched his second goal on the season with a flutter shot from the right circle that went over the shoulder of Swamp Rabbits goalie P.J. Musico. Nate Condon was credited with his sixth helper on the play, and Max Everson got his second with the secondary assist.
Coming off the momentum of four consecutive big saves by Andy Iles, the Gladiators took a 2-1 lead with five minutes remaining in the second period. Max Everson sent the puck past the sprawling Musico on a one-timer off a pass from Mike Merrifield for the shorthanded goal. The Harvard product scored his fourth tally on the season after Merrifield drew a penalty at center ice, then recovered and gave a saucer pass directly to Everson for the goal. The play marked Merrifield's sixth assist on the year, while Daniel Bahntge was credited with his third helper.
Derek Nesbitt then doubled the Atlanta lead to 3-1 with a goal from the left circle that trickled through the legs of P.J. Musico. The Gladiators captain notched his eighth tally on the year with 3:11 left in the middle frame. Merrifield and Bahntge were both credited with their second points of the game on the play.
With just over five minutes gone in the third Period, Greenville captain Bretton Cameron cut the Atlanta lead in half and made the score 3-2. The Alberta native scored the powerplay goal on the Swamp Rabbits five-on-three to bring life back to the home team. Richard Nejezchleb and Josh Nicholls were credited with the assists on the three-on-one rush.
Brock Higgs regained the two-goal lead for Atlanta with a powerplay goal 11:03 into the final frame. The 5-foot-11 forward slid the dormant puck past the red line after it had slid through the legs of Musico and stopped on the goal line. Derek Nesbitt got his second point of the game with an assist, and Thomas Frazee was also credited with a helper on the play that put the Gladiators ahead 4-2.
With five minutes remaining Greenville cut the deficit again and made it 4-3 on a goal from Ryan Rashid. The third-year pro scored his fourth of the year on a break out play that saw the Swamp Rabbits beat the Gladiators on a three-on-two zone entry. Jordan Knackstedt and Kodie Curran both received an assist on the play.
Holding on with multiple saves by Andy Iles in the dying seconds of the game, Atlanta improved to 8-6-1-0 on the year with 17 points, placing them in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. With the loss on home ice, Greenville fell to 6-9-1-0 on the year with only 13 points, putting them in thirteenth place in the conference.
The Atlanta Gladiators are back home tomorrow night at 7:05 P.M. when the Manchester Monarchs invade the Infinite Energy Arena for the first time in their franchise's history.
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Zach Yuen of the Atlanta Gladiators
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