The Atlanta Gladiators traveled to the Bon Secours Wellness Arena for the first time this season on Wednesday for a school-day morning matchup against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. A four-point night for both Alan McPherson and Joe Houk led Greenville to a 6-3 victory on home ice.
Greenville would open the scoring for the game just 5:42 into the first period. Joe Basaraba won a faceoff on the far side in the offensive zone for the Swamp Rabbits and sent the puck back to Branden Troock. The Edmonton, AB native then skated around the top the circle and fired a shot that trickled through the five-hole of Atlanta goalie Dan Vladar to put the Swamp Rabbits ahead 1-0.
The home side would then double their lead 13:28 into the opening frame. Brenden Kotyk was credited with his third goal of the season after he sent a shot through traffic that squibbed under the right pad of Vladar. Curt Gogol notched the lone assist on the power play tally.
Atlanta then cut the deficit to 2-1 with a power play goal of their own 4:55 into the second period. Ben Danford kept the puck in the offensive zone for the Gladiators and sent a pass across to Lindsay Sparks. The forward then circled through the zone before he found Ben Marshall open in the slot, where Marshall then blasted a slap shot into the back of the net for his second goal of the season.
Allen McPherson would regain Greenville’s two-goal lead at the 8:00 mark of the middle frame. After Vladar made two stops on original shots from Houk and Sergey Zborovskiy, McPherson reclaimed the rebound to the right of the goal and roofed a shot into the top shelf. The second power play goal of the night for the Swamp Rabbits put them ahead 3-1.
The Gladiators would once again get back to within one with their second power play goal of the game with 9:54 left in the second. Sparks tallied his first goal with Atlanta after he corralled a pass from Ben Marshall and skated in from the near-side boards and wristed a shot off the post and in. The fourth special teams goal of the contest trimmed Greenville’s lead to only 3-2.
Greenville added to their lead again only :46 seconds into the third period. McPherson intercepted the puck in the neutral zone and sent a pass ahead to Caleb Herbert. The former Washington Capitals draft pick then brought the puck into the zone and backhanded a shot past Vladar to put the Swamp Rabbits ahead 4-2.
For the third time in a row, Atlanta then cut the lead in half with a power play goal 7:55 into the third. Phil Lane tapped in his team-leading 10th goal of the season while in a scrum in front of the net. Sparks added his third point of the night with an assist on the play while Tanner Pond also collected a helper on Lane’s ninth goal in his last seven games.
The Swamp Rabbits would tally their third power play goal as well, giving them a 5-3 lead with 6:49 remaining in the final period. Herbert picked up his second goal in a row for Greenville after he found the rebound at the back door and lifted a shot into the net. Both Houk and McPherson tallied another point with an assist on the goal.
With only 3:52 remaining in the game, Greenville scored once again to go ahead 6-3. McPherson notched his fourth point of the contest after he received a pass at the backdoor and wristed the puck into the open net. Houk and Herbert were credited with the assists on the play.
The loss snapped Atlanta’s six-game road winning streak and left the Gladiators with a record of 7-5-0-1, good for fourth in the South Division with 15 points. Meanwhile, Greenville improved their win streak to seven with the win on Wednesday morning, and now sit in second in the division with a record of 8-3-1-0 and 17 points.
Up next, Atlanta returns home after a four-game road trip to host Orlando tomorrow evening. The puck drops at 7:05 between the Gladiators and Solar Bears at the Infinite Energy Arena on Thursday night.