Point Streak Ends in Road Loss to Solar Bears
ORLANDO, FL - The Atlanta Gladiators entered Thursday's battle with the Orlando Solar Bears just two points behind South Carolina for the final playoff position. Unfortunately, they would not gain any ground on the Stingrays as a quick start by the hosts lifted them to a 5-1 victory at the Amway Center in central Florida.
The visiting Gladiators survived two early first period Orlando power play opportunities before beginning to gain some offensive momentum. Following the lack of a penalty call benefiting Atlanta, the home team capitalized on a break through the neutral zone. Mathieu Foget and Cody Donaghey found Colby McAuley in the slot before his shot found the back of the net with 7:43 to play in the opening frame. Matter went from bad to worse in the closing minutes of the period. On a similar play to the first tally of the night, Troy Bourke found Otto Somppi before a back-hander beat Sean Bonar to double the Solar Bear lead.
After the Gladiators could not turn their first power play of the night in to a mark, Orlando struck again. A breakaway chance by Brent Pedersen resulted in another Solar Bears goal less than three minutes into the middle frame. The contest got heated in the middle minutes of the second period when a late poke check of Bonar in net sparked a scrum that featured Jake Flegel taking out Atlanta's frustration on an Orlando player. Orlando continued to pour it on after the fight, as Chris LeBlanc netted a short-handed goal via Foget.
The testy nature of the game boiled over when a vicious elbow found Avery Peterson's head that went uncalled. The spark helped propel Atlanta to their first tally of the night. Brett McKenzie gathered the puck in the neutral zone before a precise pass found Nolan LaPorte behind the defense. His shot slipped by Clint Windsor to get the visiting Gladiators on the board with 2:53 to play in the second.
Atlanta earned another man-advantage before the second intermission, hoping to cut the deficit even more. Unfortunately, it was the hosting Solar Bears that generated another short-handed scoring chance when Bourke and Samppi found Donaghey for the fifth goal of the night just :15 seconds from the end of the frame.
The Glads could not overcome the large deficit and were saddled with their 26th regulation loss of the campaign. Atlanta still sits at 64 points on the season through 64 games and trail the South Carolina Stingrays by two points with three games in hand.
The Gladiators return to Infinite Energy Arena Saturday night as they host the Kansas City Mavericks on Marvel Super Hero Night. Visit atlantagladiators.com today to secure your tickets!
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