Even after obtaining an early 2-0 lead, the Atlanta Gladiators could not hold the advantage as they fell to the South Carolina Stingrays at the North Charleston Coliseum on Tuesday evening by the score of 4-2.
For the third consecutive game, the Gladiators lit up the scoreboard first, this time scoring at the 4:29 mark of the opening period. Derek Nesbitt found Tommy Vannelli at the point where the rookie defender propelled a wrist shot on goal. Stingray's goalie, Joe Cannata made the pad save but saw the puck trampoline right to Connor Gaarder who scored on the rebound to put Atlanta into a 1-0 lead on the Minnesota native's sixth tally of the season.
The Gladiators doubled their lead to 2-0 with a Tyler Murovich strike 13:10 into the first frame. Thomas Frazee gained possession after a hard forecheck behind the Rays net. The North Vancouver, BC native then sent the puck out front where Murovich collected the pass, deked around Cannata, and scored his 13th goal of the season.
South Carolina came out strong in the middle period and cut the Atlanta lead in half, 14:40 into the middle stanza. Dominic Monadro took advantage of untimely Gladiator line change and moved in on a partial breakaway against Atlanta netminder, Matt Ginn. The fourth year pro whistled a wrist shot past the glove of Ginn into the net for his eighth goal on the campaign.
The Stingrays evened the score with their second tally of the period at the 14:40 of the second. Joey Leach sent a wrist shot from the point after receiving the disc from Scott Tanski. The puck redirected off of a Gladiator defender in front of Ginn and trickled in past the Atlanta goaltender. Leach's second tally of season was also assisted by Colton Saucerman and made the score 2-2.
The Stingrays carried the momentum of a strong second period to the third as they conquered the lead for the first time, 4:35 into the frame. Alex Brooks beat Ginn with a wrist shot from the right circle for his first professional goal. Marcus Perrier and Tim MaGualey were credited with the helpers on the play that put South Carolina up 3-2.
The Stingrays added a late insurance goal from Andrew Cheriwchan to put them up 4-2, the eventual final score. Failing to hold on to their early lead, Atlanta dropped to 18-24-6-1 and remained at 43 points with the loss. South Carolina increased their lead over Atlanta in the standings improving to 57 points with their 27th win on the year.