Win Streak Halted in 4-3 Loss in Jacksonville
JACKSONVILLE, FL - A night after an offensive explosion against the Jacksonville Icemen, the Atlanta Gladiators could not capitalize on many chances and fell 4-3 to the same Icemen. Despite the rallying effort in the second period, two short-handed tallies for Jacksonville lifted the home team to a rebounding win.
The visiting Gladiators could not take advantage of an early power play opportunity, the result of a tripping minor committed by Jacksonville captain, Garrett Hunt. Instead, a takeaway gave Cameron Critchlow a golden, short-handed opportunity against Michael Bitzer, getting the start in the middle contest of a three-game weekend. Critchlow finished his chance, after two initial stops by Bitzer, giving the Icemen an early lead less than four minutes into the game. The second period brought an assault of offense, starting with the hosting team. Kris Newbury and Cody Fowlie found Garrett Ladd before he doubled Jacksonville's lead five minutes into the middle frame.
Atlanta's offense had been dormant up through the first half of the evening before a bad turnover by Jacksonville in front of Angus Redmond's crease. Nick Bligh dished the puck to Brett McKenzie in front for one of the easier tallies of his career with 11:11 to play in the period. The turnover by the Icemen sparked the Gladiator offense in the latter half of the second period.
The offensive flurry resulted in the game-tying goal with 5:53 remaining in the second. Bligh and Matt Lane pressed chances on net before a rebound fell to Jack Stander at the open backside of the net. The defenseman buried his chance to level the game at two. The rally was short-lived, as the hosting Icemen struck again just :41 seconds later. Alexis D'Aoust and Wacey Rabbit fed Christophe Lalancette for the go-ahead tally with 5:12 to play in the frame.
The Gladiators had another power play opportunity early in the third period, but it was another turnover on the man advantage that gave the home team a great chance to increase their lead. Wacey Rabbit did just that roughly three minutes into the final frame.
The pesky Gladiators would not lay down in the third period. Fawcett gathered a puck in the nearside corner before flinging a shot on goal. The second chance bounced to an offensively-inclined Stander, who buried another chance to bring Atlanta within one. He earned two goals in the contest after registering just one in the entire season prior to Saturday's contest.
A late-game push was not enough to overcome the second two-goal deficit, and Jacksonville took home the win. Despite the defeat keeping Atlanta at 72 points on the season, a loss by South Carolina keeps the Gladiators in the fourth position in the South Division with a game in hand over the Stingrays.
The Gladiators conclude this three-game weekend Sunday afternoon on the road against South Carolina at 3:05 PM. Atlanta returns to the Infinite Energy Arena on Sunday, April 7th at 3:05 PM. Get your tickets today at atlantagladiators.com!
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