Unable to hold on to their third period lead, the Atlanta Gladiators fell to the Greenville Swamp Rabbits in overtime by a score of 3-2 as they returned to action at the Infinite Energy Arena on Thursday night.
Greenville would open the scoring just 6:13 into the contest. After he received a breakout pass from Spiro Goulakos, Swamp Rabbit forward Michael Joly took the puck up the ice and deked around three Atlanta defenders before he took a quick shot on net. Gladiators' goalie, Matt Ginn, would stop the first shot, however Joly knocked in his own rebound for his fifth goal of the year and to put the visitors ahead 1-0.
The Gladiators would then tie the game at 1-1 with a shorthanded goal at the 13:47 mark of the opening frame. Connor Gaarder found the net for Atlanta with a shot over the glove of Greenville goaltender, Jeff Malcolm, that went off the cross bar and in. The goal was the Minnesota native’s third of the year and was assisted by Drew Baker and Tyler Murovich.
Atlanta beat the clock to take their first lead of the game as Eric Neiley tallied his 19th goal of the year with just :0.6 seconds remaining in the first period. The second-year pro was able to knock the loose puck into the open net after Josh Atkinson ripped a slap shot from the point that hit off the head of Malcolm and redirected to Murovich, who then tapped it over to Neiley. The goal put the Gladiators ahead 2-1 as they headed into the second.
After the second period passed with no one able to score, Greenville lit the lamp 12:55 into the third to tie the game at 2-2. Goulakos corralled the puck for the Swamp Rabbits and then sent a pass to Tristian King in the offensive zone. The seventh year pro then took a shot on net that was redirected by Joe Houk and trickled through the pads of Ginn. The tying goal was Houk’s ninth of the year and gave Goulakos his second point of the night with an assist.
With the game tied at 2-2 after 60 minutes of regulation, the teams headed to overtime to decide the winner. Tommy Thompson ended the game on a strike with only :10 seconds remaining in the extra period. The game winning goal was the rookie's 13th of the season and was assisted by Houk and King.
With the overtime loss, Atlanta dropped to 16-18-6-1. This kept the Gladiators in sixth in the South Division with 39 points. Meanwhile, Greenville improved to 22-16-3-1 with the win and jumped into second in the division with 48 points.Gladiators Earn Point in OT Loss to Greenville