The Gladiators returned to action on Friday night as they welcomed the Tulsa Oilers for the teams second matchup in as many nights. The puck dropped at 6:35 PM at the Infinite Energy Arena for Atlanta and Tulsa’s fourth and final bout of the season.
Atlanta struck first with a four-on-four tally 14:08 into the opening period. Brock Higgs received a pass from Corey Syvret and then brought the puck into the zone after he deked through three Tulsa players. The Gladiators alternate captain then sent a saucer pass across the zone to Justin Buzzeo who stickhandled past the goalie, Jamie Phillips, and buried the shot for his 10th goal of the season.
Cason Hohmann then netted his ninth goal of the year to increase the Atlanta lead to 2-0, 1:08 into the second period. Derek Nesbitt made a play off the back of the net to himself and was able to slap a pass in front to the Texas native. Dalton Reum was credited with the secondary assist after he kept the puck in the zone to start the play.
The Gladiators would then take a three goal lead just 5:59 into the middle frame. After Syvret made a play to keep the puck in the offensive zone, Higgs corralled the puck and maneuvered his way through half the Tulsa defense. The product of R.P.I. then sent a pass in front to Trevor Mingoia, who tapped in the puck for his 10th goal of the season.
With just under four minutes remaining in the second, Miles Koules tallied a power play goal to put Tulsa on the board. The former Gladiator was positioned in front of the net and tipped a shot that came from the point to beat Daniel Vladar, the Atlanta netminder. The goal was assisted by Wes Cunningham and Emerson Clark and cut the Oilers deficit to 3-1.
Chris Lalancette would then cut the Atlanta lead to 3-2 with 16:24 remaining in the third period. Danick Paquette cut into the offensive zone and carried the puck through right wing circle where he deferred a pass to the left side. Lalancette blasted a one-timer between the legs of Vladar for his seventh goal of the year.
The Gladiators would add some insurance courtesy of Nesbitt. Josh Atkinson took the puck coast-to-coast shifting around Tulsa defenders. The rookie d-man hurled a pass over the back post that the Captain chipped the disc past Phillips for his 16th tally of the season.
Tulsa got back to within one once again with a Garrett Ladd marker. 11:00 minutes into the third, Ladd received a pass from Dennis Brown at the point. The Fenton, MI native quickly fired a shot that beat Vladar with traffic in front. Ladd's ninth of the year was also assisted by Tyson Wilson.
With under a minute to go Higgs earned his third point of the night with an empty net goal that stymied the Tulsa comeback. Mark Naclerio notched the lone assist and extended his point streak to five games on his sixth assist with the Gladiators.
The Gladiators offense surged for the second night in a row and the home team picked up a victory by the score of 5-3 on Friday. The win jumped Atlanta to fifth in the South Division with 33 points and a record of 14-15-4-1. Despite the loss, Tulsa remained in second in the Central Division with 43 points and a record of 20-15-3-0.