The Atlanta Gladiators kicked off the 2017-2018 campaign with their opening preseason game against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits at the Atlanta Ice Forum on Thursday night. Caleb Herbert’s two goals led the Swamp Rabbits to a 4-3 win.
Thomas Frazee notched the first goal of the year for the home side, and put the Gladiators ahead 1-0 with a rebound tally to the right of Greenville’s goaltender, Brandon Halverson. Chase Witala was accredited with the lone assist on Frazee’s first of the preseason after he brought the puck into the zone and launched a shot from the slot that ricocheted off the pads of Halverson. The goal came 4:25 into the opening frame.
Greenville was then able to respond with a tally of their own 11:44 into the first period. Herbert was able to corral a turnover in the neutral zone and take the puck in for a breakaway, where he then deked past Atlanta’s goalie, Matt Ginn, to even the game at 1-1.
Atlanta replied to the visitors 4:27 into the second period to regain their one-goal lead. Alex Gacek buried his first goal of the preseason with a hard shot from the low slot after he circled the entire offensive zone looking for a lane. Patrick D’Amico picked up the lone assist on the tally that pushed the Gladiators ahead 2-1.
Sean Flanagan brought the game back even for Greenville just 2:49 into the third. The defenseman blasted in a slap-shot from the point for his first goal on the campaign. Austin McKay and Carter Sandlack both earned an assist on the goal that tied the game at 2-2.
Just three minutes of game time later, Witala put Atlanta back in front 3-2 with a snap shot from the hash-marks. The forward’s first goal of the exhibition stage, and second point of the night, was assisted by Ben Danford.
The Swamp Rabbits would continue the back-and-forth nature of the game and knot the score at 3-3 with 10:39 remaining in the contest. Nick Betz tallied his first of the night with a tap in to the side of the net. Joe Houk and Joe Basaraba notched the assists on the power play goal.
Greenville would net the decisive strike 14:02 into the final period. After Houk and Basaraba moved the puck around in the offensive zone, Herbert was able to find an open shooting lane and blasted in his second goal from the high slot. The forwards marker was his second on the power play and gave the Swamp Rabbits a 4-3 victory.
The Gladiators will now travel to Charleston to face the South Carolina Stingrays tomorrow night for their final matchup of the preseason, before opening the regular season on the road against the Florida Everblades on Friday, October 13.
Gladiators Drop Preseason Opener 4-3 to Greenville
Thursday, October 5th
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