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Pond's Two Goals Not Enough in Atlanta Loss

Friday, January 5th
Pond's Two Goals Not Enough in Atlanta Loss

The Atlanta Gladiators took to the ice at home for the first time in 2018 as they welcomed the Greenville Swamp Rabbits to the Infinite Energy Arena on Friday night. Despite a strong start from the Gladiators, Greenville was able to net multiple goals in the each of last two periods to take the 5-3 victory.

The Gladiators took the first lead of the contest with 4:00 left in the opening frame. Ben Danford carried the puck into the offensive zone on the near-side boards and centered a pass to Taylor Stefishen. The former Nashville Predators draft pick then wristed a shot on net that rebounded to Tanner Pond, who tapped in the loose puck for his fourth goal of the season.

Greenville then evened the game with a power play goal with 15:48 remaining in the second period. Evan Jasper corralled the puck at the far boards for the visitors and took a shot towards the net. The puck then hit off the leg of Dan Vladar and landed on the stick of Austin McKay. The Toronto, ON native then jabbed the puck into the net for his fifth goal of the year. Sean Flanagan was credited with the secondary assist on the goal that tied the game at 1-1.

The Swamp Rabbits took the 2-1 lead with 6:04 left to play in the middle frame. Branden Troock picked up the puck in the corner and found Joe Basaraba open in the slot. The former captain of the University of Minnesota-Duluth then stickhandled around Vladar and slipped the puck into the back of the net. Derek Sutliffe tallied the secondary assist on Basaraba’s ninth goal of the season.

Atlanta then tied the game at 2-2 with 15:19 to play in the third period. Darby Llewellyn pressured Halverson behind the Greenville net and forced a turnover. The rookie tapped the puck off the goalie’s stick over to Taylor Stefishen, who did a quick wrap-around to slip the puck into the open net. The goal was Stefishen’s second of the year.

Greenville then retook their lead just :26 seconds of playing time later. Jasper stole the puck off the center ice faceoff and broke into the zone down the far-side. There, he lined a wrist shot through the legs of Vladar for his second point of the game to go ahead 3-2.

The visitors then doubled their lead to 4-2 with 13:12 left in the final frame. Jasper found the puck on his stick in the corner of his offensive end, and sent a saucer pass across the zone to Troock. The Edmonton, AB native then fired a shot over the sprawling Vladar for his team-leading 15th goal of the season.

The Gladiators would cut the deficit to 4-3 with 2:52 remaining in the third period. Ben Danford recovered the loose puck deep in the offensive zone and threw a pass towards the front of the net. There, Pond gained possession and fired a shot into the top corner of the net for his second goal of the game.

The Swamp Rabbits would add an empty net goal with :35 seconds remaining to clinch the road victory. Unable to knock off their division-foes, Atlanta dropped to 15-18-1-1 and remain at 32 points. Meanwhile, Greenville improved to 17-13-2-1 with the road victory, and still sit in third in the division with 37 points.

Up next, the Gladiators will play the second of a three-games in three-days set as they travel to the Bon Secours Wellness Arena for their second straight contest against the Swamp Rabbits. The puck drops between Atlanta and Greenville at 7:00pm tomorrow night in South Carolina.

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