Glads Get Set for Pair of Games against South Division Leaders
ESTERO, Fla. - The Atlanta Gladiators (19-14-2-1) take on the Florida Everblades (19-10-3-3) tonight in the ninth meeting of the season between the two clubs. The Glads have won their last three games and are 4-4-0-0 against the Everblades this season, including wins in the last two encounters.
Scouting the Everblades
Florida features some of the league's best offensive talent, including Blake Winiecki who leads the ECHL with 40 points (17G-23A). Winiecki is tied with his teammate Alex Aleardi for the league lead in goals with 17. Captain John McCarron, who recently took over the franchise lead for all-time Everblades points, ranks fourth in the ECHL with 36 points (16G-20A) and is tied for second in the league with 16 goals. Aleardi (17G-17A) and Joe Pendenza (14G-19A) also rank in the top 10 in ECHL scoring. The Everblades are coming off of consecutive losses for just the second time this season and rank first in the South Division.
Last Time Out/Last Meeting
The Gladiators stepped past the Everblades 4-2 on Monday, Jan. 17. Kameron Kielly scored first for the Glads, but then Florida posted a pair of tallies to take a 2-1 lead heading into the third period. Elijah Vilio took over for Atlanta with a natural hat trick in the final frame. Vilio ripped off three straight goals to propel the Gladiators to a 4-2 win.
The French Invasion
Rookie defenseman Xavier Bernard and forward Hugo Roy returned to the Gladiators after spending time with the Belleville Senators in the American Hockey League. Bernard appeared in 17 games with the B-Sens this season and recorded two assists. Roy has been called up to the AHL twice this season and has appeared in six games with Belleville. Roy led Atlanta with 12 goals at the time of his most recent call-up.
Hats Off to Vilio
Rookie Elijah Vilio recorded Atlanta's first hat trick of the season on Jan. 17 vs Florida. The 24-year-old scored three goals in order, giving him the Gladiators' first natural hat trick since Feb. 26, 2020 when Eric Neiley accomplished the feat against the South Carolina Stingrays. Current Gladiators forward Luke Nogard assisted on two of Neiley's goals on Feb. 26. Of Vilio's three tallies, none were at even strength. The blueliner scored once on the power play, once shorthanded, and sank an empty-netter to round out the trio.
Goaltender Tyler Parks has loomed large in net all season for Atlanta. The 6-foot-6 netminder ranks second in the ECHL with a 2.10 goals-against average, second in the league with a .932 save percentage, and he leads all ECHL goaltenders with 15 wins this season. On Jan. 14 against Jacksonville, Parks tied a season high with 42 saves on 43 shots. The 29-year-old has also played the second most minutes of anyone in the ECHL at 1316.
Rookie forward Mitchell Hoelscher tabbed three more assists on Jan. 17 against Florida and now has eight points (2G-6A) in his first four Gladiators games, including back-to-back games with three helpers. The 21-year-old was loaned to Atlanta from the Belleville Senators on Jan. 12 and made his ECHL debut that same night against Cincinnati. In the second period, Hoelscher netted his first professional goal. The Waterloo, Ontario native appeared in two games this season with Belleville before sustaining an injury. Hoelscher played in seven games last season with the B-Sens and recorded one assist. The 6-foot, 176-pound forward was selected by the New Jersey Devils in the sixth round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
WHEN: Friday, Jan. 21 at 7:30 PM ET
WHERE: Hertz Arena - Estero, Fla.
WHO: Atlanta Gladiators at Florida Everblades
BROADCAST: All Atlanta Gladiators games are broadcast live on the Gladiators Broadcast Network. Listen to the game online at Mixlr.com, or watch the game on FloHockey.TV.
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