The Gladiators were in Cincinnati Wednesday night to take on the Cyclones in their final regular season match-up of the 15-16 season. Cinci would come away with the win, however, as they defeated Atlanta by a final score of 5-2.
The Cincinnati Cyclones took their first lead of the night with only 1:14 left in the opening frame. Branden Gracel was credited with his 12th goal of the season after a shot from Tommy Mele redirected off of his skate, and past the Gladiators goaltender Matt Ginn. Mele earned his 14th assist on the season after taking the original shot, while Seth Ambroz notched his fifth helper after feeding the puck to Mele.
The Gladiators would tie the game at one 2:02 into the second period. Max Everson received a pass from Ian Barteaux at the right point and sent a shot past Cyclones goalie Andy Iles. The rookie notched his 11th goal of the year on the powerplay, while Barteaux got his 10th helper on the play. Brock Higgs registered his 16th assist also on the Everson tally.
Christian Minella put the home team back ahead 2-1, 13:15 into the middle stanza. The Cyclones forward was standing in front of the net when Gladiators defenseman Kevin Albers tried to clear the puck and sent it off Minella's skate and into the net. The product of Notre Dame was credited with his ninth goal of the season on the play.
Cincinnati would double their lead with 3:53 left in the second. Joe Pendaza sent a shot flying over the glove of a sprawling Ginn to put his team up 3-1. The goal was Pendaza's ninth of the year, while Jack downing was credited with his 19th assist after sending a saucer pass to Pendaza on the 2-on-1. Garrett Noonan notched his 25th helper with the secondary assist.
Just over two minutes later, Shawn Bates brought the Gladiators back within one. The second-year pro was awarded with his second goal of the campaign after speeding down the ice and sending the puck past Iles from the left circle. Higgs got his second assist of the night on the play, while Corey Fienhage recorded his first point since being acquired by Atlanta with the secondary helper.
Jack Downing put the Cincinnati lead back at two after netting his league-leading 26th goal of the season on a breakaway with 9:22 left in the final period. The former Missouri Maverick slotted a shot past Ginn to put the Cyclones up 4-2, as the Atlanta goalie tried to poke check him near the top of the crease. Andrew Yogan and Brett Wysopal were both credited with an assist on the play.
Pendenza put the game away for Cincinnati after netting an empty net goal to give the Cyclones a 5-2 lead with one minute left in the game. The former Milwaukee Admiral netted his second of the game, and 10th of the season on the unassisted open net goal.
With the loss on the road, Atlanta falls to 28-19-4-2 on the season, giving them 62 points and placing them in sixth place in the Eastern Conference. Cincinnati improves to 28-20-3-2 with the win, good for 61 points and seventh place in the Western Conference.