Although they controlled the game early and held their opponent to just five first period shots, the Atlanta Gladiators fell to the first place Florida Everblades by a score of 4-1 as they returned to action at the Infinite Energy Arena on Friday night.
After the first period ended with both teams unable to find the back of the net, Curt Gogol opened the game’s scoring just :20 seconds into the second frame. The sixth year pro attempted to send a pass down through the zone, however, the puck redirected off the skates of a Gladiator defenseman and slid into the open net.
Atlanta would not stay behind long, as Tyler Murovich found the twine to tie the game a 1-1 at the 7:15 mark of the middle period. The Gladiators alternate captain received a pass from A.J. White in the slot and wristed a quick shot that skittered past Florida’s netminder, Anthony Peters. The goal was Murovich’s 10th of the season and second in back-to-back games.
Just over two minutes later, Florida would regain their lead off a strike from Brant Harris. After he received a pass from Josh Wesley in the neutral zone, Brendan O’Donnell brought the puck into the zone for the Everblades. The Winnipeg, MB native then sent a pass across the zone to Harris, who sent a laser of a shot over the glove of the Atlanta goalie, Dan Vladar. The goal was the third-year pro’s 19th of the year and came at 9:27 of the second.
Florida would then take a two-goal lead with 5:56 remaining in the second period. Jake Baker notched his first goal of the season after he took a slap shot from the point that found its way through traffic in front and crossed the goal line. Clark Bishop and Matt Berry were both credited with an assist on the goal that put the Everblades ahead 3-1.
With only 3:10 left in the third, the Everblades struck once again to go ahead 4-1. Dalton Smith was able to tap in a cross-ice pass from Stephan MacAulay for his fifth goal of the year. Tyler Ganley also was credited with an assist on the final goal of the game.
The loss dropped Atlanta to 17-20-6-1 on the year which kept them in sixth in the South Division with 41 points. Meanwhile, the win improved Florida to 30-9-2-2 and the Everblades stayed atop the division with 64 points.