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Gladiators Fall Short in 5-2 Loss Against Monarchs

Friday, February 16th
Gladiators Fall Short in 5-2 Loss Against Monarchs

The Atlanta Gladiators returned to action on Friday night as they welcomed the Manchester Monarchs to the Infinite Energy for the first of two weekend matchups. After getting off to a slow start, the Gladiators were unable to complete the comeback as they fell by a score of 5-2.

Manchester opened the scoring with a power play goal 11:47 into the first period. Matt Leitner carried the puck at the near-side hash-mark and sailed a pass to the backdoor. There, Joel Lowery sat unmarked and tapped in the centering pass for his 16th goal of the season. Keegan Iverson tallied the secondary assist on the goal that gave the Monarchs the 1-0 lead.

The Monarchs then doubled their lead 5:00 into the middle frame. Craig Wyszomirski picked up his second goal of the year with a slap shot from the point that flew over the shoulder of Atlanta netminder Dan Vladar. Zac Lynch added his name to the scoresheet with the primary assist, while Lowry notched his second point of the night on the play.

Less than two minutes of playing time later, the visitors struck to go ahead 3-0. Lynch corralled a loose puck in the slot after it hit off a player and brought it around the side of the zone where he fired a shot into the net for his 21st of the year. Lowry picked up his third point of the night with an assist, while Michael Downing added the secondary helper.

Manchester then took a 4-0 lead 9:39 into the second period. Charles Williams sent the puck up the boards for Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman. The forward then used a burst of speed to exit the zone and send a pass across to Matt Schmalz. The Dunnville, ON native then sent the puck back to LaVallee-Smotherman, who knocked it in for his 28th goal of the year.

Atlanta finally got on the board 11:43 into the middle frame and cut the deficit to 4-1. Darby Llewellyn stole the puck off a defender in the neutral zone and broke down the ice on a two-on-one. The rookie forward found Colin Jacobs open on the rush, who then broke into the offensive zone and whipped a shot over the blocker of Williams for his eighth goal of the year.

The Gladiators then cut the lead to 4-2 at the 15:48 mark of the second. Phil Lane collected the puck off a turnover and skated into the offensive zone on a two-on-one. The 2018 ECHL All-Star lifted a pass across to Lindsay Sparks, who closed in on the net and slipped a shot through the five-hole of Williams for his 12th goal of the campaign.

Manchester responded to make the score 5-2 with only 5:28 left in the third period. Alexx Privitera faked a shot from the near-side boards that redirected off the blade of LaVallee-Smotherman for his second goal of the night. Schmalz also picked up his second point of the game on the play.

Unable to knock off the Monarchs, Atlanta dropped to 26-25-1-2 on the season but remain in third in the South Division with 55 points. Meanwhile, Manchester improved to 31-16-3-1 and added to their lead atop the North Division with 66 points.

Up next, the two teams will have a day off before they face-off once again on Sunday afternoon. The puck drop between the Gladiators and Monarchs is scheduled for 2:05pm at the Infinite Energy Arena on February 18th.

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