GAME RECAP: Florida Comes from Behind to Defeat Gladiators, Take 3-0
The Atlanta Gladiators returned to action on Thursday night as they welcomed the Florida Everblades to the Infinite Energy Arena for game three of the South Division Semifinals. The visitors completed a come-from-behind victory with a goal late in the third to defeat the Gladiators and take a 3-0 series lead.
After a scoreless opening frame, Florida struck on the power play at the 4:05 mark of the second period to take the 1-0 lead. Gus Young collected the puck behind the net in his defensive zone and sent a head-man pass to Mitchell Heard. The former Colorado Avalanche draft pick then brought the puck through the neutral where before he found Michael Kirkpatrick, who used a burst of speed to get past the defender and then fire a shot into the back of the net for his third goal of the postseason.
The Gladiators responded with a power play goal of their own 10:11 into the middle frame to knot the score at 1-1. Phil Lane controlled the puck deep in his offensive zone and directed a pass to Ben Danford at the center-point. The Stillwater, MN native then tapped a pass over to Derek Nesbitt, who blasted a one-timer past the glove of Callum Booth for his second goal of the playoffs.
Less than four minutes of play later, Atlanta struck once again to take a 2-1 lead. Rick Pinkston held the puck in the offensive zone and took a shot from the blue-line. Tanner Pond then collected the rebound and skated around the net in search of an open passing lane. The rookie forward directed a pass to the slot, where Taylor Stefishen wristed a shot that bounced off the shoulder of Booth and trickled into the net for his first of the opening series.
With just :50 seconds remaining in the second period, the Everblades brought the score even at 2-2. Spencer Smallman collected his own rebound in the far-corner and guided a pass to Justin Kea in front of the net, who tapped the puck over a sprawling Dan Vladar to tie the game. Zack Kamrass tallied the secondary assist on Kea's first playoff goal.
Florida regained their lead and made the score 3-2 at the 14:51 mark of the third period. Heard picked up a rebound on the near-side boards and sent a pass to Kirkpatrick in the slot. The North Sydney, NS native then released a shot that slipped through the legs of Vladar for his second point of the contest.
The Everblades added an empty-net goal with 1:12 left in the game to increase their lead to 4-2. Brett Bulmer was credited with the goal that sealed the victory for the visitors, and gave them a 3-0 series lead.
Up next, the two teams will face off at the Infinite Energy Arena once again tomorrow at 7:35pm for game four of the South Division Semifinals.
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