Swamp Rabbits Slowed by Gladiators
DULUTH, Ga. - Gladiators goaltender Michael Bitzer made 28 saves for his first professional shutout, and the hot Greenville offense was halted completely by the Atlanta defense. The Gladiators defeated the Greenville Swamp Rabbits 3-0 on Friday night at Infinite Energy Arena.
In a game with a four-point swing in the standings, and following an effort where the Gladiators gave up eight goals against the night prior, Atlanta found a way to keep a Greenville offense that had scored 15 goals in the past two games off of the board. Michael Bitzer spelled Sean Bonar in goal and did what he needed to do to grab first-star honors and the shutout. He made 10 saves in both the first and third periods.
The key turning point came when Atlanta found a way in the second period to strike twice. Joseph Widmar, off of a Greenville defensive zone turnover, deflected a Nick Bligh pass through the five hole of Garrett Bartus to start the scoring. Just two minutes later, Joel Messner scored on a scramble in the defensive zone to double the lead.
Daniel Leavens capped the scoring with a wraparound goal, an insurance tally, just under three minutes into the third period which extended the lead to 3-0.
Bartus' first two saves of the night were grade-A quality, both on Justin MacDonald, the reigning ECHL Forward of the Week. He made yet another on Leavens early in the second period to keep the game scoreless.
Both teams were held off of the scoresheet on the power play.
The Swamp Rabbits get back to action on Sunday, February 17 in the first-ever matchup with the Newfoundland Growlers at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are available at SwampRabbits.com.
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Greenville Swamp Rabbits forward Austen Brassard races the Atlanta Gladiators up the ice
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