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Atlanta Defeats Norfolk 5-4 in OT

Friday, November 25th
Atlanta Defeats Norfolk 5-4 in OT

After a decisive win the previous night, Atlanta welcomed back the Admirals for the two teams’ second matchup in as many nights. The Gladiators where in search of their third win in as many tries over Norfolk on the season, as the puck dropped at the Infinite Energy Arena.

Norfolk struck first for the second night in a row, as Gabriel Verpaelst found the back of the net just :15 seconds into the game. The Admirals were able to win the opening draw and sent the puck into the corner of the Atlanta zone. From there, the puck was chipped up to the point where Verpaelst knocked it down and blasted a hard shot through traffic in front that found its way over the right shoulder of Atlanta goalie, Matt Ginn. The unassisted tally was the Quebec native’s first mark of the year.

Atlanta was then able to tie the game at 1-1 with 14:11 left in the opening frame. Thomas Frazee skated into the zone on a 2-on-1 where he sent a saucer pass over the sprawling Admirals’ defenseman and directly onto the stick of Colin Jacobs. The fourth year pro sent the puck into the open net for his fourth goal of the year. Both Derek Nesbitt and Frazee were credited with an assist on the play.

Nesbitt put the Gladiators ahead 2-1 with 4:07 left in the first period. The Atlanta captain was able to notch his league leading 13th goal of the season after he sent a quick wrist shot into the top corner of the net from the left side circle. Frazee and Jacobs both notched their second point of the game with the helpers on the goal.

Just over two minutes later, the Gladiators doubled their lead on a tally from Frazee. The North Vancouver, BC resident was the beneficiary of a tic-tac-toe passing play in front of the Norfolk net between Jacobs and Alex Roach. The three Atlanta players came into the zone on a 3-on-1 rush and were able to fool both the defender, and Norfolk goalie, Eetu Laurikainen on the play with some quick passing. Frazee’s 10th of the year made the score 3-1 in favor of the Gladiators with only 2:33 remaining in the first period.

The Admirals were able to cut the lead to 3-2, 8:17 into the second period. Zach Pochiro picked up his first goal of the season when he redirected a shot by Verpaelst from the point, and into the back of the net. Verpaelst was credited with his second point of the night, while John Kurtz tallied his third assist of the year with the secondary helper.

Pochiro continued his strong period, and found the net for the second time with 5:58 remaining in the middle stanza. The former St. Louis Blues' draft pick stuffed in a rebound to the left of Ginn's pad to tie the game at 3-3. Jaedon Descheneau and Josh Brittain both put their name on the scoresheet with an assist on the game tying goal.

With 11:07 remaining in the third period, Atlanta regained their lead on Eric Neiley’s 13th goal of the year. Brock Higgs won the face-off in the Atlanta offensive zone and to Justin Buzzeo in the corner. The Ferris State University product then shot the puck towards the net and saw it deflect off of Neiley’s shinguard into the back of the net. Buzzeo extended his point streak to an ECHL season long 13 games with an assist on the goal that made it 4-3 Gladiators.

Norfolk was able to break through on the power play to tie the game at 4-4 with 2:37 remaining in regulation. Nick MacNeil was credited with his fifth goal of the year after he took a quick shot towards the net that found its way through a bevy of bodies in front of Ginn. DiNallo and Harstad both picked up an assist on the Admirals' first power play goal in their last 27 attempts.

With the score tied at the end of regulation, the two teams headed to a five minute, 3-on-3 overtime period. The recipient of a Buzzeo pass on a 2-on-1 rush, Ben Marshall, sent a shot on the Norfolk goal that trickled past the pads of Laurikainen and just across the goal line with only :48 seconds remaining in the extra frame. The defenseman’s second goal of the year was the game winner in overtime, and was assisted by Buzzeo and Higgs who each managed multi-point evenings with the helpers.

Following the big win on home ice, Atlanta improved to 10-9-1-1 on the season. This give the Gladiators 22 points on the year, and kept them in second place in the ECHL's South division. Meanwhile, Norfolk dropped their third game in a row, which gave them a 2-10-4-0 record. The Admirals remain in last in the South division with only eight points.

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