Atlanta returned to home ice for the first time since early November on Thursday night as they hosted Orlando for the teams’ third matchup this season. The Gladiators were able to continue their hot-streak against the Solar Bears as a strong outing in net for Sean Bonar, and a multi-point night from Alex Gacek led them to a 4-2 victory.
Atlanta would open the game’s scoring just 1:51 into the first period to take the early 1-0 lead. Taylor Stefishen picked up the loose puck in his defensive zone and sent a pass across to Tanner Pond. The rookie then tapped the puck forward to Luke Sandler, who skated into the zone and faked a shot before he deked around Orlando goalie Mackenzie Skapski to put in his third goal of the season.
Orlando would then respond and tie the game at 1-1 just 1:46 into the second period. Jeff King corralled the puck in his defensive zone and sent a pass across the ice to J.J. Piccinich. The New Jersey native then broke into the offensive zone on a 2-on-0 and lifted a pass over to Joshua Winquist, who tapped the puck in for his fourth goal on the campaign.
The Gladiators regained their lead with 8:55 left in the middle frame. Lindsay Sparks battled for the puck on the far boards and knocked a pass down to Gacek. The former Miami (OH) Redhawk then controlled the puck and found Ben Marshall in the slot for a one-timer that blew past Skapski to put the Gladiators ahead 2-1.
With 10:35 left in the third period, Orlando found the back of the net once again to tie the game at 2-2. Chris Crane was credited with his fifth goal of the season on the play after he received a pass at the back door and shot the puck past a sprawling Bonar. Both Winquist and Piccinich tallied their second point of the net with an assist on the goal.
Atlanta then responded just over a minute and a half later to make the score 3-2. Josh Atkinson carried the puck end-to-end for the Gladiators and circled around the offensive zone to look for a pass. The second-year pro then found Gacek open at the point, where he blasted a shot through Skapski’s five-hole for his fourth goal of the year.
The Gladiators would add an empty net goal from Sparks with just :05 seconds left to clinch the win on home ice. Atlanta improved to 8-5-0-1 with the victory and jumped to third in the South Division with 17 points. Meanwhile, Orlando dropped to 2-7-2-0 with the loss and remained in sixth in the division with six points.
Up next, Atlanta will return to home ice on Sunday afternoon as they host South Carolina. The puck drops at 2:05PM at the Infinite Energy Arena between the Gladiators and Stingrays on November 19th.
Atlanta Returns to Win Column With 4-2 Win Over Orlando on Home Ice
Thursday, November 16th
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