The Gladiators returned to action on Friday night for their second matchup with the Florida Everblades in as many nights. Atlanta looked to avenge their loss from the previous evening as the puck dropped between the two teams at the Infinite Energy Arena.
Florida opened the scoring for the second night in a row with a power play tally 5:40 into the game. After he received a fortuitous bounce off the shin pad of an Atlanta player, Daniel New took the puck at the point and blasted a shot that went off the crossbar and in. The goal was the fifth year pro’s third of the season and was assisted by Zack Kamrass and Mike Ferrantino.
The Everblades then doubled their lead to 2-0 at the 13:11 mark of the opening frame. Brendan O’Donnell picked the puck up in his offensive zone and sent a shoot through traffic in front that rang off the post and in. The former Tampa Bay Lightning draft pick notched his 18th goal of the season, while Curt Gogol and Alex Kuquali were given an assist on the play.
Just over a minute of playing time later, Dalton Smith found the back of the net to put Florida ahead 3-0 in the first. Ferrantino won the draw back to the Ontario native who then ripped a shot from the slot that beat Atlanta goalie, Jay Williams. The goal was the forward’s third of the year and was assisted by Ferrantino and Gogol, which gave both players their second point of the game.
The Gladiators would finally get on the board with just :25 seconds remaining in the second period to cut the lead to 3-1. Shane Bakker fired a wrist shot that hit off the post and then redirected off the back of Florida’s goalie, Alex Nedeljkovic, and trickled over the goal line. Tyler Shiplo and Thomas Frazee both tallied a helper on the Assistant Captain’s fifth goal of the year.
Florida would regain their three goal lead with a strike 10:49 into the third period. Brant Harris took a shot that bounced off a defender and back to his stick where he sent a laser over the glove of William’s from the near circle. The University of Connecticut product’s 12th goal of the year was unassisted and put his team ahead 4-1.
Trevor Mingoia would then cut the deficit to two for the home team. The rookie took a shot through traffic that bounced wide of the net, where he then regained the puck and did a quick wrap around for his ninth goal of the season. Josh Atkinson and Mark Naclerio added their names to the scoresheet on the goal that came 17:03 into the final period.
With only :32 seconds remaining in the third Bakker struck for the second time to bring the Gladiators back to within one. Mingoia blasted a shot form the point that hit Frazee and went right to Bakker who chipped the puck into the back of the goal. Mingoia and Frazee both picked up their second point of the night with the assists on the tally.
Florida sealed the victory with an empty net goal at the 19:38 mark of the third. Everblades goalie, Alex Nedeljkovic shot the puck the length of the ice for his first professional goal and only the 12th goal scored by a goaltender in ECHL history.
Unable to stop Florida’s offense early, the Gladiators failed to make a comeback and fell to the visitors by a score of 5-3 on Friday night. The loss dropped Atlanta to sixth in the South division with a record of 12-15-4-1 and 29 points. The Everblades maintained their spot in first in the division with 43 points and a record of 20-6-1-2 after the win.