For the second time in as many nights, the Atlanta Gladiators took the ice at Germain Arena for a matchup with the Florida Everblades in the South Division Semifinals. Despite outshooting the home side in the final two frames, Atlanta was unable to finish the comeback and dropped game two by a score of 3-2.
With just over a minute remaining in the opening frame, Florida struck first to take the 1-0 lead. Steven Lorentz carried the puck into the offensive zone and whipped a shot from the top of the near-side circle that was partially stopped, but trickled through the legs of Dan Vladar. Both Kyle Neuber and Mitchell Heard were credited with an assist on Lorentz’s first goal of the postseason.
The Everblades then doubled their lead to 2-0 with only :36 seconds left to play in the second period. Michael Kirkpatrick corralled the puck once it fell from the air and skated into the offensive zone on a two-on-one. The North Sydney, NS native then fired a shot that knocked off the pad of Vladar and landed on the stick of Zack Kamrass, who shot the puck into the open net for his first of the playoffs.
Atlanta cut the deficit in half and made the score 2-1 just 1:58 into the third period. Joe Gatenby knocked the puck down in the neutral zone and sent a pass up the ice to Phil Lane. The Gladiators leading scorer for the regular season then brought the puck into the zone and directed a pass to Derek Nesbitt, who one-timed a shot from the near-circle past Martin Ouellette.
Florida retook their two-goal lead with a strike at the 17:54 mark of the final frame. Joe Cox carried the puck into the offensive zone on the near side and lifted a pass across the ice on the two-one-one. There, Kirkpatrick received the pass and made a quick move to slide the puck past Vladar for his second point of the night. Heard also tallied his second point of the game on the goal that gave the home side a 3-1 lead.
The Gladiators added a goal with :21 seconds left in the game to make the score 3-2. Ben Danford notched his first goal of the playoffs after he blasted a one-timer from the far-circle into the top of the net. Both Josh Atkinson and Lindsay Sparks picked up an assist on the play. The goal proved to be too little, too late for Atlanta, who fell behind 2-0 in the series after the loss.
Up next, the teams will have a day off for travel tomorrow before the series shifts to the Infinite Energy Arena on Thursday night for game three at 7:35pm.