Glads Strike Down Thunder in 5-4 OT Thriller
DULUTH, GA - The Atlanta Gladiators took down the Adirondack Thunder 5-4 in overtime Tuesday night to gain ground in the ECHL South Division playoff race. Rookie Samuel Asselin gathered three points (2G, 1A) in the contest, including the game-winner in overtime to give Atlanta their 22nd win of the season.
The Glads began the weekday affair with a solid effort in the defensive zone, breaking up any chance the visitors had to establish a rhythm. It was Adirondack finally breaking through in the opening frame, when former Gladiators F Casey Pierro-Zabotel and F John Edwardh assisted F Matt Sulhany on his 18th goal of the year to give the Thunder the lead after twenty minutes.
Defense took a back seat in the middle period, as the teams combined for five goals in the second. The Glads got on the board when D Joel Messner found F Logan Nelson streaking through the neutral zone, springing a two-on-one opportunity. Nelson found his friend and fellow forward Anthony Collins to tie the game at one. Six and a half minutes into the period, Atlanta struck again. C Derek Nesbitt gathered the puck at the right halfboards before finding Asselin at the goal line. The skilled rookie zipped a pass through the goal crease before F Thomas Frazee buried the back-side chance to give the Glads a 2-1 lead.
With about 11:00 minutes to play in the second, Adirondack rebounded when F Nikita Popugaev netted his ninth goal of the campaign to tie the game at two. Frazee regained the lead once again for Atlanta when he routed a pass from D Josh Thrower across the goal line, confirmed by a replay review. Asselin kept the officials busy in the replay booth when F Scott Conway and Messner assisted him on a lightning-quick one-timer. Upon review, the score stood and Atlanta held a 4-2 advantage after forty minutes of play.
Eager to respond, the Thunder cut the lead in half just :31 seconds into the third frame. F Ludvig Larsson netted his third goal of the year on an unassisted tally. Just when it looked like Atlanta was regaining momentum, the Thunder struck again. D Michael Sdao and F Ara Nazarian found F Ryan Walker for his eighth goal of the season to tie the game at four with 13:47 to play in regulation. Despite the back-and-forth action, neither side claimed a game-winner within sixty minutes, sending the game to overtime.
It only took :34 seconds of three-on-three in the extra frame to decide the game's victor. After a face-off win in the offensive zone, the Thunder turned the puck over at the blue line. That allowed Asselin to fly into a breakaway with the game on his stick. He snuck the puck under Adirondack G Eamon McAdam to cap off the thrilling night with the overtime win.
The Gladiators return to home ice this weekend when they host the Orlando Solar Bears at 7:35 PM Friday and the Greenville Swamp Rabbits at 2:05 PM Sunday. Fans are encouraged to snag their tickets to Friday's OrthoAtlanta Health & Wellness Night and Sunday's Youth Sports Day today!
Images from this story
Atlanta Gladiators forward Eric Neiley (left) vs. the Adirondack Thunder
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