Despite a multi-goal game from Tyler Murovich, the Atlanta Gladiators could not hold off their opponent late and fell to the Orlando Solar Bears by a score of 8-5 on Tuesday night at the Infinite Energy Arena.
Orlando opened the games scoring 4:07 into the first period. After Milos Bubela wrapped the puck around the corner in his offensive zone, Chris Bradley collected it and sent a pass down to Alexandre Carrier. There the Quebec native turned and lined a shot that redirected off the ankle of a Gladiators defender and trickled into the net. The tally was Carrier’s second of the year and put the Solar Bears ahead 1-0.
The Gladiators would then reply with a strike of their own just over a minute later. A.J. White carried the puck into the offensive zone for Atlanta and then left a drop pass for Tyler Murovich in the right circle. The Gladiators' alternate captain then faked a shot to the blocker side and caused Orlando goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo to slide the opposite way which allowed him to bury his 11th goal of the season to tie the game at 1-1.
The visitors regained their one goal lead just :57 seconds into the second frame. Joe Perry skated the puck into the offensive zone and fired a snap shot from the left circle that went in off the post after sailing between the blocker and pad of Atlanta goalie, Matt Ginn. Bubela notched his second assist of the night on the third year pro’s 24th of the year.
Atlanta would once again tie the game, this time with a power-play goal 11:29 into the middle stanza. Trevor Mingoia received a pass from Justin Buzzeo at the back door and tapped in the puck for his 16th tally. Ginn received his first assist of the year after sending the long breakout pass to Buzzeo.
Less than one minute of playing time later, the home team would take their first lead of the night. After the first three shot attempts were stopped by Kaskisuo, Murovich was able to collect his own rebound and slip a shot past the sprawling goalie for his second tally of the game. A.J. White was credited with his second assist of the night on the play, while Connor Gaarder added his name to the scoresheet with the secondary helper against his former team.
Orlando was quick to respond, and knotted the game just :24 seconds after Atlanta took the lead. Alex Gacek tied the contest for the visitors with a shot off a rebound in front of the net. The product of Miami University of Ohio’s 18th of the season was assisted by Chase Witala and Daniel Maggio.
Within :30 seconds of the tying goal, the Solar Bears struck again to take a 4-3 lead at the 13:13 mark of the second. Witala took a pass from Gacek off the faceoff and brought the puck into the zone where he wristed a shot over Ginn’s glove for his fifth goal of the season.
The rookie forward then struck for the second time in a row 4:36 into the third period. After the puck rolled loose behind the net, Witala snatched it up and tossed a pass in front of the net that hit off a defenders foot and snuck in past Ginn's pad to put Orlando ahead 5-3. Bubela increased his assist total for the night to three on the play, while Gacek notched his second of the game.
Justin Buzzeo then brought the home team back to within one with a power play tally. Josh Atkinson blasted a shot from the point which got redirected in front by Eric Neiley before it slid to the blade of Buzzeo. The product of Ferris State University then tapped in his 15th goal of the season to make the score 5-4.
Atlanta continued on the momentum gained from the man advantage goal and tied the match just under a minute and a half later at the 7:40 mark of the final period. Thomas Frazee captured his 14th marker of the season with a rebound goal in front of the net. Akim Aliu and Nick Trecapelli both earned an assist on the play.
The Solar Bears would take their final lead with 4:30 remaining in the game. After Ginn made a stop on Bubela in the slot, Shane Conacher buried the rebound for his first goal of the year. The power play tally was assisted by Bubela and Perry. Orlando added two empty net goals in the final minute to give them the decisive 8-5 victory.
The loss on home ice dropped Atlanta to a record of 17-22-6-1 and kept the team in sixth in the South Division with 41 points. Meanwhile Orlando remained in second the South after the win with a record of 24-15-5-2 and 55 points.