Playing in their first home game in a month, the Gladiators played host to division rival South Carolina on Friday night. After the Gladiators leading 2-1 for two periods, the Stingrays scored three unanswered goals in the 3rd - one of which was an empty netter - to win 4-2. South Carolina scored 9:42 into the first period to give the Stingrays an early 1-0 lead. Bobby Shea drove a long pass from the right point to set up Kelly Zajac in the left circle. The Winnipeg, MB native crossed over in front of Gladiators goaltender, Kent Patterson, and slid it past his left pad for his first goal of the season. Shea was credited with the primary assist while Austin Fyten recorded his 11th point with the secondary helper.Atlanta answered back at the 13:01 mark to even the score at one. Justin Buzzeo took a shot from the high slot which deflected off the stick of Brock Higgs and past Stingrays goaltender, Vitek Vanecek. Higgs recorded his 18th goal of the season while Buzzeo notched his 13th helper of the year. Eric Neiley tallied his 14th point on the secondary assist.The Gladiators took the lead with 43.9 seconds left in the first frame off a strike from Garry Nunn. An initial shot from Derek Nesbitt rebounded off the right pad of Vanecek and into the path of the Victoria, B.C. native, who slotted the puck into the far side of the net. Thomas Frazee notched his 27th point with the secondary assist on Nunn's 11th goal of the year while Nesbitt recorded his team-leading 50th point of the season.After a scoreless second period, the Stingrays evened the score with just over 16 minutes left in the third frame. A backhand shot from Fyten ricocheted off a Gladiators' defender, sliding directly to Shea who powered the puck past Patterson. The fourth-year pro picked up his fifth goal of the year while Fyten and Zajac recorded assists on the play, giving all three skaters their second points of the night. South Carolina would retake the lead on a long shot over the right shoulder of Patterson. With 1:59 left in the third, and coming off an unsuccessful powerplay, Joey Leach received the puck from Paul Rodriguez at the left point and lined a long-distance shot into the net to take a 3-2 lead. David Pacan was credited with the secondary assist on Leach's fifth goal of the season. The veteran defenseman would score an empty-net goal 1:09 later for his second of the period to seal the game at 4-2.Atlanta with the defeat stayed at 65 points and dropped to a record of 29-20-5-2 but remained in sixth place in the Eastern Conference. South Carolina tied the Florida Everblades for the top spot in the South Division after advancing to 72 points on the season in their 33rd win.
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