The Atlanta Gladiators returned to action on Friday night for their first of a five-game road trip as they took to the ice at the Wings Event Center for a matchup against the Kalamazoo Wings.
Kalamazoo would open the scoring 5:20 into the first period to take the early 1-0 lead. Kyle Bushee received the puck at the point after it was knocked loose from the corner and blasted a shot towards the net. In the middle of a crowd in the slot, Tyler Heinonen deflected the puck mid-air into the back of the net for his seventh goal of the season.
The Wings would then double their lead at the 9:58 mark of the opening frame. Ben Wilson took a shot from the near-side boards that was deflected wide of the net by Brendan Bradley. In the corner, Tyler Briggs collected the puck and wrapped around the net to slide a shot into the open goal to put Kalamazoo up 2-0 on his team-leading ninth goal of the year.
Less than a minute of play later, Kalamazoo scored once again to go up 3-0. Eric Kattelus kept the puck in his offensive zone and sent a pass down to Kyle Blaney. The Ryerson University product then found Lane Scheidl across the zone for a quick one-time shot that sailed into the net for his sixth goal of the campaign.
Atlanta would then respond to make the score 3-1 with a power play goal with 2:09 remaining in the first period. Derek Nesbitt controlled the puck at the hash marks near the boards and found Ben Danford open at the point for a pass. The Stillwater, MN native then sent a pass across the blue line to Cody Carlson, who one-timed a slap-shot just inside the post for his first goal of the season.
The Gladiators would then cut their deficit to 3-2 with 16:51 left in the middle frame. Ryan Lannon took the puck at the top of the circle and wristed a shot towards net that knocked off the pads of Joel Martin and rebounded to the front of the net. Brady Vail then saw the rebound and dove on the ice to knock the loose puck into the back of the net for his 11th mark of the year. Phil Lane notched the secondary assist on Atlanta’s second goal of the game.
The visitors would then knot the game at 3-3 just 1:03 into the third period. Lindsay Sparks stole the puck off the stick off a Kalamazoo defender behind the net and centered a pass to Lane at the far-side circle. The former second round pick of the Arizona Coyotes snapped off a quick shot that soared into the top corner of the net for his team-leading 13th goal of the season.
Kalamazoo then retook the lead with a goal with 12:35 remaining in the third. Jimmy Mullin gave the Wings the 4-3 lead after he broke into the offensive zone and skated past the defender, where he slipped a shot just past Gladiators goalie Matt O’Connor. J.T. Stenglein was credited with the assist on Mullin’s fourth goal of the year.
The Wings would seal the victory with a goal with 3:20 left in the third to go up 5-3. Scheidl picked up his second goal on the night after he beat O’Connor with a shot on the blocker side. Both Stenglein and Wilson tallied their second assist of the game on the play.
Scheidl would add an empty-net goal to seal the 6-3 victory for the Wings. Unable to get the win on the road, Atlanta dropped to 12-12-1-1 and remain in fourth in the South Division with 26 points. Meanwhile, Kalamazoo improved to 11-8-1-1 with the home win and sit in fifth in the Central Division with 24 points.
Up next, Atlanta will continue their road trip with a game in Toledo, OH tomorrow night. The Gladiators will match-up with the Toledo Walleye at 7:15 pm on Saturday evening at the Huntington Center.
Atlanta Falls in First Game of Northern Road Trip 6-3 in Kalamazoo
Friday, December 15th
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