Atlanta got 40 saves from Matt Ginn and a three point effort, including the overtime winner, from Mark Naclerio as the Gladiators defeated the Swamp Rabbits 5-4 in Greenville on Sunday Afternoon.
Atlanta reversed the trend from the last four games and scored the game's first goal 5:52 into the first stanza. Alex Gacek dumped the puck into the Greenville zone form center ice. The puck took a fortuitous bounce over the stick of the Swamp Rabbit goalie, Mazenkie Skapski, and slid out front into the crease. Gacek raced to the loose puck and potted his 26th goal of the season into a wide-open net to give the visitors the 1-0 lead.
Greenville responded quick to tie the game 1-1 just over :30 second later. Garrett Noonan propelled a rink-wide pass to a waiting Adam Chapie in the left wing circle. Chapie then blasted a one-timer on goal that beat Gladiators goalie, Matt Ginn over the glove, rang off the post and entered the net. Chapie's fourth goal of the season was also assisted by Ahti Oksanen.
The Swamp Rabbits moved to a 2-1 lead at the 13:55 mark of the opening frame. Oksanen earned his second point of the game after he took a shot on goal that was stopped by Ginn before it was put home on the rebound by Alan McPherson. The former Elmira Jackals' eighth goal on the campaign sent both teams to the first intermission with Atlanta trailing by one.
Greenville went up by two after scoring 5:28 into the middle session. Angelo Miceli increased his team-lead in points to 75 with his 21st goal of the year. The Quebec native skated into the Atlanta third one-on-two where he then deked the Gladiators' defenders and beat Ginn with a wrist shot over the glove.
The Gladiators cut the lead back to one exactly at the half-way point of the game. Ben Marshall got his first goal since returning to Atlanta from Providence with a wrist shot from the point that snuck through traffic and eluded Skapski. The fourth tally of the season for Marshall was assisted by Mark Naclerio and Colin Sullivan which gave the rookie defender his first professional point.
Atlanta took full advantage of a Greenville penalty and scored on their first power play attempt to tie the game 3-3. Naclerio registered his second point of the evening and goals in four straight games with theequalizer jamming home a rebound 11:32 into the middle period. Atlanta's leader in assists, Josh Atkinson, earned the only helper after taking the original shot from the blue-line.
The visitors then took the lead for the second time in the game 9:19 into the third period. Tommy Vannelli netted his first professional goal with a snap shot from the right circle after dancing around the Swamp Rabbits' defender. Eric Neiley and A.J. White received credit for the helpers on the play after working the puck up to the former St. Louis Blues' second round pick at the point.
Greenville once again quickly responded and knotted the game at 4-4 only :42 second later. Miceli stripped the last Atlanta skater in the zone of the puck and moved in on a partial breakaway. Ginn gave the second-year pro nothing to shoot at on the break forcing the forward around the back of the net where he spun a warp-a-round attempt into the goal just past the glove of the Glads' netminder.
Even with both teams putting up a good amount of chances in the tail-end of the final frame, no more goals entered the net and the game shifted to overtime. It only took the Gladiators :36 seconds into OT to notch the winner that came off the stick of Naclerio. Atkinson and Neiley both engineered multi-point games with the assists on the goal from the former Brown University captain who knocked in a rebound from the bottom of the left circle.
Breaking a six-game losing streak, Atlanta advanced to 58 points on the year with their 25th win of the season. Greenville held on to the two spot in the South Division standings at 84 points with the one point earned for the OT loss.