Ian Bateaux Scores Late Giving Atlanta 5-4 Win in Season Finale
In their last game of the season, Derek Nesbitt opened up the scoring against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits after deflecting an initial slapshot by Max Everson from the point. The Gladiators leading scorer notched his 28th goal of the year and gave the captain his 62nd point of the season. Everson picked up his 15th assist on the primary assist while Brock Higgs was credited with his 41st point on the secondary helper.
Tyler Murovich doubled the lead with 2:51 left in the first period on a shot from the left circle that beat the blocker of Greenville goalkeeper, Alain Valiquette. Patrick D'Amico dropped the puck off to the assistant captain who was able to rear back for the open shot and take the 2-0 lead. Corey Fienhage picked up his second assist while D'Amico recorded his 19th point on Murovich's career high 19th goal of the season.
The Atlanta Gladiators took a three point lead 4:14 into the second period. Thomas Frazee and Murovich combined for a tic-tac-toe passing sequence that started inside the right circle, sent the puck across the face of the net and was tapped into the goal by D'Amico. The Winnipeg native notched his 13th goal of the season while Murovich and Frazee registered their 20th and 31st assists, respectively.
Atlanta increased their lead to 4-0 off the stick of Brock Higgs at the 11:10 mark of the second frame. Ian Barteaux slapped the puck from the right point and ricocheted off the forwards stick, past Valiquette and into the net. Higgs' 20th goal gave Barteaux his 13th assist on the season. Mike Merrifield was awarded the secondary assist on the play.
The Swamp Rabbits got on the board with 2:43 left in the second period on the team's second powerplay opportunity of the night. Michael St. Croix made a circle-to-circle pass to Chris Leone who one-timed the puck past the glove of Gladiators' goaltender, Matt Ginn. The rookie notched his first goal of the season while St. Croix recorded his 29th assist of the season. Justin DaSilva tallied his 18th assist on the secondary helper.
Greenville cut the lead in half with 15:58 remaining in the third period off a one-time shot by Brian Hart. Quick passing from Ryan Rashid and Garett Bembridge helped open up space for the forward who tucked a pass across the face of the net into past Ginn. Hart picked up his 11th goal of the season while Bembridge and Rashid registered their 10th and 25th helpers, respectively.
The Swamp Rabbits cut the defecit to one with 6:30 left in the third frame on a consecutive powerplay goal. Josh Nicholls hit a slapshot from the slot that sent the puck through the legs of Ginn and made the score 4-3 in favor of the Gladiators. Scott Fleming recorded his 35th assist on Nicholls 11th score of the season.
Nicholls struck again four minutes later to complete four-goal comeback. Fleming and Leone combined to find the Tsawwassen, British Columbia product for his second goal and tied the game at four. Nicholls recorded his 12th goal of the season and credited Leone and Fleming with the assists.
Ian Barteaux scored the game-winning goal with 3.8 seconds left in the third frame on a long slapshot. Justin Buzzeo worked the puck from the left circle to Barteaux who hit a clean shot into the upper-right hand corner of the net to seal the victory for the Gladiators. The defenseman notched his second point of the night and his 18th of the year. Buzzeo picked up his 27th point on the primary assist.
With the win in the season finale, Atlanta finished the season with the winning record of 34-31-5-2 and 75 points on the season. That completed the first winning season since the 2012-13 season for the Gladiators.
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