Following a closely contested overtime game with South Carolina on Sunday, the Gladiators looked to back bounce on Wednesday night. Atlanta welcomed the Greenville Swamp Rabbits to the Infinite Energy Arena for their first matchup of 13 on the year.
Following a scoreless opening period, Michael Joly found the back of the net first to put Greenville ahead 1-0. The undrafted rookie put his team on the board just 5:04 into the second frame by sliding a rebound past the sprawling Atlanta goaltender, Zane McIntyre. Joly’s fifth goal of the year was assisted by Matt Prapavessis, who sent the original shot from the point off the pad of McIntyre, and Tyler Brown.
The Swamp Rabbits doubled their lead 12:59 into the final stanza on a breakaway goal from Matt Johnson. The Michigan native broke into the zone and skated from the left boards through the middle where he sent a quick shot through the legs of McIntyre to make it 2-0 Greenville. Joly picked up his second point of the game with an assist on the play.
Less than one minute of play later, Greenville would make the score 3-0. Adam Chapie tipped in a bouncing puck that McIntyre never saw. Spiro Goulakos extended a five-game point streak to six games, when the Montreal native took a shot from the half boards that deflected right to Chapie on the doorstep.
As the Gladiators continued to pummel the Swamp Rabbits' netminder, Jeff Malcolm, with shots, eventually 16:19 into the third period, Atlanta broke through with their first tally. Brock Higgs, who stood at the top of the Greenville crease, re-directed a point shot from Ben Marshall past Malcolm to bring the Gladiators to within two goals. Eric Neiley earned the secondary assist on Higgs' fifth goal of the season.
Despite multiple offensive chances late and an empty net goal from Chapie, Atlanta would not catch up to Greenville and dropped to 10-10-2-1 with the 4-1 loss on home ice. This kept the Gladiators in second place in the ECHL's South Division with 23 points on the year. Meanwhile, backed by the shutdown play of Malcolm, Greenville held off their in-division rivals and improved to 8-5-2-0 on the year which moved them into fourth in the South Division with 18 points.