For the second time in as many nights, the Atlanta Gladiators faced off with the Toledo Walleye at the Huntington Center on Saturday evening. Despite a strong showing late in the game, Atlanta couldn’t close the gap as they fell to Toledo by a score of 3-2.
Atlanta opened the game’s scoring 6:33 into the first period to take an early 1-0 lead. Darby Llewellyn collected the puck from a scrum in the offensive zone and fired a shot towards net that slipped through Pat Nagle for his 13th goal of the year. Rick Pinkston picked up the lone assist on the first strike of the contest.
Toledo then knotted the score at 1-1 with 4:51 left to play in the opening frame. After Sean Bonar had made a stop on the first attempt, Erik Bradford gathered the puck and flipped it into the net for his 14th goal of the year. Both Austen Brassard and Mike Embach notched an assist on the first goal of the game for the Walleye.
The Gladiators struck 2:05 into the second period to retake the lead and make the score 2-1. Lindsay Sparks carried the puck into the offensive zone and sent a pass across to the high slot. There, Tanner Pond collected the pass and fired a wrist shot from the top of the circle that beat Nagle and gave him his 12th tally of the campaign.
The Walleye then brought the game even at 2-2 at the 13:11 mark of the middle frame. Bradford grabbed the puck from the corner and circled around the offensive zone. The Orangeville, ON native found Ryan Obuchowski open low in the zone, where he skated the puck across the front of the net and slid a shot past Bonar for his fourth goal of the year. Simon Denis was credited with the secondary assist on the play.
Just over a minute of playing time later, the home side struck to take their first lead of the game. Tyler Barnes possessed the puck in his defensive zone and chipped a pass of the boards and out of the zone. Dylan Sadowy used a burst of speed to reach the puck and skate into the zone one-on-one, where he hurled a shot into the back of the net to give Toledo a 3-2 lead.
Unable to avenge their loss from the night before, Atlanta dropped to 27-28-1-2 but remain in third in the South Division with 57 points. Meanwhile, Toledo improved to 36-14-2-2 with the win on home ice and moved into first in the Central Division with 76 points.
Up next, Atlanta will travel to the Norfolk Scope for two divisional matchups next weekend. The first game between the Gladiators and Admirals is scheduled for
7:00pm on March 2nd.