The Atlanta Gladiators welcomed the Norfolk Admirals to the Infinite Energy Arena for the first time this season as they returned to action on Wednesday night. An offensive outburst in the third period proved to be the difference, as Atlanta took home the 4-1 win.
Atlanta opened the scoring just :16 seconds into the first period. Ben Danford possessed the puck in his defensive zone and sent a break-out pass up the ice to Taylor Stefishen. The former Nashville Predators draft pick then moved the puck to Tanner Pond, who skated into the zone and used a quick forehand-then-backhand move to slip a shot into the net for his sixth goal of the season.
Norfolk then tied the game at 1-1 with 15:11 left in the second period. Christian Horn skated the puck to his offensive blue line and dropped a pass for Grant Besse. The former Wisconsin Badger then sailed a pass across the zone to Don Olivieri, who blasted in a slap shot from the top of the far corner for his third tally of the year.
The Gladiators then retook their lead with just :46 seconds left in the middle frame. After Atlanta won the faceoff in the offensive zone, Zach Malatesta took a shot from the point that was deflected past Norfolk goalie Ty Reichenbach by Colin Jacobs in front of the net. The goal was the Texas native’s third of the season, and gave Atlanta the 2-1 lead.
With 11:08 remaining in the third period, Atlanta scored again to increase their lead to 3-1. Derek Nesbitt corralled the puck in the near-side corner of the offensive zone and spun a pass toward the front of the net. There, Pond collected the loose puck and fired a shot past Reichenbach on the glove side. Stefishen also tallied his second point of the game with the secondary assist on Pond’s second goal of the night.
Atlanta then increased their lead to 4-1 with 4:01 left in the game. Darby Llewellyn received a pass from Alex Carrier and looked for an open lane in the offensive zone. He found Stephen Pierog open across the zone and sent the pass that way, where Peirog one-timed the shot into the back of the net for his second goal of the campaign.
With the victory on home ice, Atlanta improved to 17-18-1-2 on the season, and are now tied for fourth in the South Division with 37 points. Meanwhile, Norfolk fell to 13-18-3-1 with the loss and remain in sixth in the division with 30 points.
Up next, Atlanta will hit the road for a Friday night matchup with South Carolina. The puck drop between the Gladiators and Stingrays is scheduled for 7:05 pm at the North Charleston Coliseum on January 12th.
Gladiators Sink Admirals with 4-1 Win
Wednesday, January 10th
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