After Adirondack scored late in regulation to tie the game and send the contest to overtime, Atlanta prevailed via the OT winning goal from Josh Atkinson giving the Gladiators the weekend sweep of the Thunder in front of a packed house at the Infinite Energy Arena on Saturday night.
The Gladiators struck first, and opened the games scoring 11:18 into the first period. Thomas Frazee won the faceoff for Atlanta in the offensive zone and directed the puck to Josh Atkinson at the point. The rookie then collected the disc and rifled a shot from the high point that soared over the shoulder of Adirondack goalie J.P. Anderson for his seventh goal of the season. Frazee was credited with his 14th assist of the year on the 4-on-4 mark that put Atlanta ahead 1-0.
Atlanta would double their lead to 2-0 after they found the back of the net with only 1:24 remaining in the opening period. Eric Neiley notched his team leading 22nd goal of the year after he redirected the puck out of the air that came from the high slot. Tommy Vannelli picked up an assist on the play after he took the original shot from the point, while Justin Buzzeo also added his name to the scoresheet with the secondary helper.
After no one was able to score in the second frame, Adirondack cut their deficit in half with a power play goal 10:48 into the third period. Dennis Kravchencko collected the puck for the Thunder and brought it into his offensive zone where he split the defenseman and sent a shot on goal that skittered though the legs of Atlanta’s goalie Dan Vladar. The unassisted mark was the rookie’s 11th goal of the season.
The home team would regain their two goal lead with only 4:56 remaining in the contest on a power play tally of their own. Frazee buried his 15th goal of the year from the near side post after Atkinson moved the puck around the zone and found the North Vancouver, BC native wide open at the back door. Mark Naclerio added the secondary assist on the goal that put Atlanta ahead 3-1.
The Thunder then struck again with 2:46 left in the third to bring the game to a 3-2 score. Kevin Lough was able to get away from his defender and found an open lane where he blasted in his first professional goal. Kravchenko accounted for his second point of the night with an assist on the play.
With only :22 seconds remaining in the third stanza, Adirondack found the net to tie the game at 3-3. Gunnar Hughes put the puck home for the Thunder with a shot from the left wing circle that sailed over the shoulder of Vladar and in for his eighth mark of the season. The late goal was enough for the visitors to send the game to overtime.
After a successful penalty kill early in OT, Justin Buzzeo and Tyler Murovich teamed up to get the puck to Atkinson in the high slot with the game on his stick. The Spruce Grove, AB native made no mistake with a wrist shot that beat Anderson to the top shelf giving the defender his second goal of the night, third point and Atlanta the win.
With their second win in as many nights, the Gladiators improved to 20-24-6-1 on the year and remained in sixth in the South Division with 47 points. Meanwhile, the Thunder dropped to 26-14-6-4 after the extra session loss and sit in fourth place in the North Division with 62 points.