The Atlanta Gladiators opened their 2017-18 campaign with a 4-3 loss against the Florida Everblades on Friday night at Germain Arena. A three-goal out-burst within a two-and-a-half-minute span in the second period proved to be enough for the Everblades as they fought off a late surge from the Gladiators to preserve their win.
The Everblades opened the scoring for the night with a short-handed tally 9:10 into the first period. After the puck took an odd bounce off the glass, Florida gained possession and skated into the zone on a two-on-one where Josh McCarron potted an easy goal to make it 1-0. Both Brett Bulmer and Clark Seymour were credited with an assist on the play.
Atlanta then brought the game back even 14:08 into the frame. Alex Gacek corralled the puck for the visitors and set up Josh Atkinson with a shot at the point. The defender then blasted a shot that rebounded to the stick of Thomas Frazee, who knocked in the puck to tie the game at 1-1. The powerplay goal marked the first point of the year for Frazee, Gacek, and Atkinson.
Just :47 seconds of game-time later, the Gladiators took their first lead of the contest. Patrick D’Amico carried the puck into the offensive zone and pushed it forward to Tanner Pond. The Michigan native then made a no-look behind the back pass to Darby Llewellyn for a one-time shot over the glove of Florida’s goalie Martin Ouellette. The rookies first professional point put Atlanta ahead 2-1.
Florida would tie the game at 2-2 with a powerplay goal 9:25 into the middle frame. Steven Lorentz wristed a hard shot towards the net that was blocked by Atlanta goalie Matt Ginn, however, Joe Cox gathered the rebound to the side of the goal and whipped a shot into the open net. Mitchell Heard tallied the secondary assist on the forwards first goal of the year.
Stephen MacAuley was next to find the net and gave the Everblades a 3-2 lead with 9:25 remaining in the second period. Ginn was able to deny Michael Kirkpatrick twice in front of the crease, but MacAuley controlled the rebound to pick up his first of the season.
Not yet done in the second, Florida struck once more just over a minute later to increase their lead to 4-2. Nelson Armstrong blasted in a one-time shot from the high slot that traveled through traffic and snuck by a screened Ginn. The play gave Armstrong, McCarron, and Seymour each their second point of the night.
The Gladiators would then claw back to decrease the lead to only 4-3. Lindsay Sparks flipped a pass to Phil Lane, who then burst into the zone with control of the puck. The sixth-year pro then found an opening behind the net and shot the puck off a player in front that slid past the goal line. The goal came at the 12:58 mark of the middle period and marked Lane’s first point as a Gladiator.
Despite their offensive surge late in the third period, Atlanta could not find the tying goal and fell to Florida, leaving their record at 0-1-0-0 after night one. The Gladiators will look to recover from their opening night loss as they face off against the Everblades once again tomorrow night. The puck drops at 7:00 on Saturday night at Germain Arena.