After the team took a three-day holiday break, the Gladiators returned to action on Tuesday night as the South Carolina Stingrays came into town for their second matchup of the season. The puck dropped on the two South Division rivals at the Infinite Energy Arena.
South Carolina struck first as the visitors found the back of the net just 6:23 into the game. Dylan Margonari got the tally for the Stingrays after he powered through the defense and took a quick shot that beat Atlanta goalie, Kent Patterson. The rookie’s seventh goal of the year was assisted by Rob Flick and Steven McParland and made the score 1-0.
The Stingrays then doubled their lead to 2-0 with a strike 8:34 into the middle frame. After he received a pass from Steve Weinstein at the point, Flick skated the puck through the left circle and sent one towards the net. In front, McParland tipped the puck as it skittered through Patterson’s leg for the forward's second point of the night.
Atlanta would then cut the deficit in half after Cason Hohmann knocked in the puck that was behind the South Carolina goalie, Parker Milner. The Texas native added his fourth point in four games with the Gladiators after Derek Nesbitt took the original shot that trickled by Milner and stopped before the line. Mark Naclerio also tallied his first professional assist on the goal that made it 2-1.
Just :20 seconds of playing time later, the visitors regained their two goal lead and made the score 3-1. Flick corralled the puck in the neutral zone for the Stingrays and rushed into the offensive zone before he took a wrist shot that hit off Patterson’s pads. In front of the net, Margonari poked at the puck until it slid into the goal for his second tally of the game.
The Gladiators would continue to fight back, and again cut the deficit to one with 6:18 remaining in the second period. Naclerio gathered the puck at center ice and sauced a pass to Nesbitt at the blue line. The Atlanta captain then took a couple strides into the zone before he blasted a shot that ricocheted off the back of Hohmann and found the net. The product of Boston University was credited with his second goal of the game, while his line mates both picked up their second assist of the night.
Only 2:38 into the third, the Gladiators tied the game at three. Tyler Shiplo found the puck for the home squad at the point and slid a pass over to Ben Marshall. The former Detroit Red Wings draft pick then ripped a slap shot that was redirected into the net by Thomas Frazee. The second year Gladiator was credited with his 11th goal of the year on the play, while Marshall and Shiplo both tallied their first points of the game.
Less than one minute later, Atlanta picked up their first lead of the night. After Trevor Mingoia took a shot that was saved by Milner, Brock Higgs gathered the puck in the low slot and slid a soft shot through the netminder's legs to put his team ahead 4-3. The Gladiators Assistant Captain picked up his eighth goal on the play while Mingoia and Justin Buzzeo were credited with their ninth and 24th helpers, respectively.
With only 6:37 remaining in the game, South Carolina tied the game at 4-4. McParland was the visitor who found the net for his third point of the game. The rookie powered the puck through the zone before he took a backhand shot that went through Atlanta’s backup goalie, Jay Williams. The tally was assisted by Tim McGauley, which gave the forward his second helper of the year.
With the score tied at 4-4 at the end of regulation, the two teams headed to three-on-three sudden death overtime to decide the winner. Flick split through all three Galdiator defenders with a toe-drag and then poked the puck between the legs of Williams, winning the game for South Carolina. The mark earned Flick his fourth point of the evening.
Despite the fact that they outshot their opponent in every period, Atlanta was not able get the extra point in overtime and moved their record to 12-13-4-1 on the year. The loss kept the Gladiators in fifth place in the South Division with 29 points. Meanwhile, with the win on the road South Carolina improved to 14-11-1-1 and maintained their spot in fourth in the South division with 30 points this season.