Anchored by a 32 save effort from goalie Matt Ginn, the Atlanta Gladiators were able to hold off their opponent’s offensive surge as they defeated the Greenville Swamp Rabbits by a score of 6-2 in their final game of the season at the Infinite Energy Arena on Saturday.
The Gladiators opened the game’s scoring 2:22 into the first period. Shane Bakker tallied his seventh goal of the season after he tapped a loose puck through the legs of Greenville goalie, Mackenzie Skapski. Both Josh Atkinson and Tyler Murovich picked up an assist on the opening goal.
Atlanta then doubled their lead to 2-0 just 2:16 into the middle frame. After the puck hit off the skate of one of the linesmen, Tommy Vannelli picked it up and sent a pass to Eric Neiley deep in the zone. There, the Dartmouth product looked across the zone and sent a saucer pass to Mark Naclerio who one-timed the puck past Skapski for his 14th goal of the year.
Greenville would cut the lead in half at the 18:48 mark of the second period. Nick Betz redirected a shot in front of the net that bounced past the Gladiators goalie, Ginn, for his fourth goal of the season. Desmond Bergin and Tyler Brown tallied an assist on the goal that brought the score to 2-1.
The home team would respond quickly, and made the score 3-1 at the 19:14 mark of the second. Thomas Frazee took advantage of a Greenville turnover and brought the puck into the zone, where he lined a wrist-shot over the glove of Skapski to regain Atlanta’s two-goal lead.
Just :09 seconds of playing time later, Atlanta struck again to take a 4-1 lead. Neiley corralled the puck behind the Swamp Rabbits net and found AJ White to the left of the open frame. The former Manchester Monarch took the pass and lifted a shot over the pads of Skapski for his fifth strike on the campaign.
The Swamp Rabbits then cut the lead to 4-2 with a tally 5:25 into the third period. After Angelo Miceli took a shot from the slot the Ginn was able to block, Tristan King poked the puck through the goaltender’s legs to set off the goal-light. The strike was King’s 15th of the year.
Atlanta would regain their three-goal lead at the 9:43 mark of the third. Trevor Mingoia skated with the puck in his offensive zone and maneuvered around both a defender and then Skapski to net his 21st goal of the year. Bakker doubled his point total for the game with the lone helper on the play.
The Gladiators then increased their lead to 6-2 with a milestone goal 12:15 into the final period. Tommy Vannelli ripped a shot from the point that was tipped in front by Patrick McCadden for his first ever ECHL goal. Ben Marshall also collected an assist on the final goal of the contest.
With the win in their last game of the season, Atlanta finished the year with a record of 27-37-6-2 and placed sixth in the South Division with 62 points.