Gladiators Drop Point in Overtime Loss
The Atlanta Gladiators welcomed the Jacksonville Icemen to the Infinite Energy Arena on Saturday night for the 11th and final matchup between the two teams this season. Unable to hold their lead late in the game, Atlanta fell to Jacksonville in overtime.
The Gladiators took the first lead of the game at the 10:42 mark of the opening frame. Luke Sandler charged towards the net and sent the puck to the front. Todd Skirving tried to knock the puck in, but instead nudged it forward to Phil Lane, who pushed in a shot for his 30th goal of the season.
Jacksonville then knotted the score at 1-1 at the 12:16 mark of the first period. Cody Fowlie carried the puck into his offensive zone down the near side and shoveled a pass towards the slot. There, Eli Lichtenwald got his stick on the puck and redirected the pass into the top corner for his second goal of the campaign. Bobby MacIntyre tallied the secondary assist on the play.
The Icemen then collected a shorthanded goal with 2:47 remaining in the opening frame to take their first lead of the game. Tanner Eberle won the race to a cleared puck and broke into the offensive zone on a breakaway. The Regina, SK native lifted a shot over the blocker of Sean Bonar for his 17th of the year. Both Tyson Fawcett and Justin Woods notched an assist on the goal that gave Jacksonville a 2-1 lead.
Atlanta responded with a shorthanded goal of their own to tie the game at 2-2 just 3:53 into the second period. Darby Llewellyn brought the puck into the offensive zone and dangled around two defenders before he whipped a shot towards the net. Austin Lotz made the initial save, however, Llewellyn collected his own rebound and slipped a shot through the legs of the netminder as he spun around a defender. Sean Bonar tallied the lone assist on the former member of the Kitchener Rangers' 15th goal of the season.
Less than :30 seconds of playing time later, the Gladiators struck again to take a 3-2 lead. Branden Troock gained control of a loose puck at the far-side hash marks in the offensive zone and directed a pass to Eric Shand at the point. The rookie defender then wristed a shot towards net that trickled through the legs of Lotz for his fifth goal of the campaign.
The home side then doubled their lead to 4-2 with just :36 seconds left in the middle frame. Skirving poked the puck loose at the near side boards in the offensive zone and directed a pass to Colin Sullivan in the faceoff circle. The Milford, CT native then threw a shot towards net that was deflected past Lotz by Lane, who was sitting in front of the crease.
Jacksonville cut their deficit to 4-3 at the 8:23 mark of the third period. After he received a pass from Garet Hunt at the boards, Woods carried the puck towards the back of the net and sent a centering pass towards the slot. Elgin Pearce collected the puck and fired a shot past the glove of Bonar for his 21st goal of the year.
Less than a minute of playing time later, the visitors struck once again to tie the game at 4-4. Jimmy Lodge skated to a puck deep in his offensive zone and poked it to Brendan Collier behind the net. The Northeastern grad then directed a pass to the front of the net, where MacIntyre tapped in the puck for his 19th goal.
With the game tied after regulation, the teams headed to overtime. Just :44 seconds into the extra frame, Woods fired a shot into the net to give Jacksonville the 5-4 victory. With their second consecutive loss at home, Atlanta dropped to 29-32-2-2, but remain in fourth in the South Division with 62 points. Meanwhile, Jacksonville improved to 24-32-4-3 with the victory and sit in sixth in the division with 55 points.
Up next, the Gladiators will welcome the Stingrays to Duluth for the final matchup between the divisional foes this year. The puck drop between Atlanta and South Carolina is scheduled for 7:05pm at the Infinite Energy Arena on Monday, March 19th.
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