The Gladiators returned to action for their first game of the 2017 calendar year on Thursday night. Atlanta welcomed the Tulsa Oilers to the Infinite Energy Arena for their first ever trip to Duluth.
After the opening period passed and no one found the back of the net, Danick Paquette scored 1:36 into the second frame to put the visitors ahead 1-0. The former Atlanta Thrashers draft pick was credited with his fourth goal of the season after he snuck a shot by the pads of Atlanta goalie, Matt Ginn. Garrett Ladd received an assist after he corralled the puck and sent a tape-to-tape pass to Paquette.
Atlanta would then tie the game at 1-1 with only 1:04 remaining in the middle stanza. Derek Nesbitt skated through the offensive zone on the power play before he sent a pass to Mark Naclerio at the right side circle. The rookie then tossed a shot towards the net which rebounded to the blade of Thomas Frazee, who buried the puck for his 12th goal of the season.
The Gladiators would get their first lead of the night 4:17 into the third period. Tyler Murovich sent a pass behind the net to Justin Buzzeo who then found Brock Higgs at the back door. The product of R.P.I. then flicked a shot behind the back of Tulsa goalie, Jamie Phillips to put Atlanta ahead 2-1.
Less than :30 seconds later, Atlanta struck once again to increase their lead to 3-1. Higgs found the puck on his stick as he entered the zone with speed. The third year pro then he blasted a shot over the glove of Phillips for his second goal of the night and of that shift. Buzzeo and Murovich combined again on the play and both received their second assists of the game.
Tulsa would cut the Atlanta lead to 3-2 with a goal at the 14:53 mark of the third. Darcy Murphy was credited with his eighth goal of the season after he slid a rebound under Ginn. Miles Koules picked up an assist against his former team on the play, while Tyson Wilson added his name to the scoresheet with the secondary helper.
After holding on to the lead and powered by their strong third period play, the Gladiators were able to defeat the Oilers on Thursday night by a score of 3-2. The win improved Atlanta’s record to 13-15-4-1 and kept them in 6th place in the South Division with 31 points. Tulsa fell to the Gladiators for the first time in three matchups so far after they were not able to capitalize on some late opportunities. The loss kept the visitors in second place in the Central Division with a record of 20-14-3-0 and 43 points.