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Comeback Falls Short in 4-3 Loss to Orlando

Sunday, January 28th
Comeback Falls Short in 4-3 Loss to Orlando

Skating in their third game in as many days, the Atlanta Gladiators concluded Hockey Fights Cancer weekend with a matchup against the Orlando Solar Bears on Sunday afternoon. Unable to finish the comeback after trailing big early, Atlanta fell to Orlando by a final score of 4-3.

Orlando opened the game’s scoring at the 11:47 mark of the first period. Hunter Fejes stole the puck in the corner and centered a pass to Chris Crane. The former San Jose Sharks draft pick then rifled a shot into the top of the net to give the visitors an early 1-0 lead.

The Solar Bears then struck at the 14:26 mark of the opening frame to take a 2-0 lead. Josh Winquist was credited with his 15th goal of the season on the play after he received a pass in the slot and wristed a shot past Sean Bonar. Both Chris LeBlanc and Joe Perry tallied an assist on the play.

Less than two-minutes of playing time later, the visitors struck on the power play to go ahead 3-0. J.J. Piccinich took possession of a loose puck deep in the Atlanta zone and found Fejes open at the back-door. The second-year-pro then one-timed a shot into the back of the net for his 21st goal of the year.

Orlando would increase their lead to 4-0 at the 4:17 mark of the middle frame. Martins Dzierkals notched the goal for the visitors with a wrist shot from the high-circle that sailed over the blocker of Bonar. Winquist tallied his second point of the night with an assist, while Adam Phillips added his name to the scoresheet with the secondary helper.

Atlanta then got on the board with a power play goal at the 13:47 point of the second period. Phil Lane controlled the puck in the far-side corner of the offensive zone and sent a pass to Derek Nesbitt at the point. The Gladiators captain then delivered the puck across the blue line to Ben Danford, who wired a shot into the net to cut the score to 4-1.

The Gladiators cut the deficit to 4-2 at the 15:20 mark of the middle period with their second power play goal of the game. Taylor Doherty collected his fifth goal of the year with a booming slap shot from the point that bested Mackenzie Skapski top-blocker. Danford collected his second point of the night with the assist, while Lindsay Sparks was credited with the secondary helper.

With just over one minute left in the second, the home side found the net once again to make the score 4-3. Doherty corralled the puck in his own zone and chipped a pass off the glass to Tanner Pond. The rookie then tapped the puck back to Sparks, who then dangled around a defender and whipped a shot past the glove of Skapski for his 10th of the season.

Unable to produce the same offense from the night before, Atlanta dropped to 22-22-1-2 with the loss, but remain in third in the South Division with 47 points. Meanwhile, Orlando improved to 19-19-5-1 with the road victory and still sit in fourth in the division with 44 points.

Up next, Atlanta will travel to Jacksonville for a two-game set late in the week. The first game between the Gladiators and Icemen has a scheduled puck drop of 7:30pm at the Veterans Memorial Arena on Thursday.

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