The Atlanta Gladiators took the ice at the Veterans Memorial Arena for the second straight night as they faced-off with the Jacksonville Icemen on Friday. Despite trailing after the first, the Gladiators scored multiple goals in each of the final two periods to take the 4-1 win.
Jacksonville opened the game’s scoring just 1:21 into the first period. Bobby MacIntyre controlled the puck in his defensive zone and sent a clearing pass to Jimmy Lodge. The former Winnipeg Jets third-round pick then used a burst of speed to come into the zone on a breakaway, and made a quick move to his backhand to slip in his 12th goal of the year. Chris Dienes tallied the secondary assist on the goal that gave the home team a 1-0 lead.
The Gladiators would tie the game at 1-1 with 11:45 left in the second period. Taylor Stefishen picked up the loose puck in the neutral zone and skated past the blue line before he tapped a pass on to Colin Jacobs. The Texas native then lifted a shot into the air that bounced off the back of Austin Lotz and trickled into the net for Jacobs’ sixth goal of the season.
With just 0.2 seconds left in the middle frame, Atlanta tapped the puck in to take a 2-1 lead. Tanner Pond took a faceoff to the right of the Jacksonville net and pushed the puck forward towards the crease. Ben Danford then beat the defense to the puck and knocked it in just before the buzzer for his 10th goal of the year.
Atlanta then increased their lead to 3-1 at the 7:55 mark of the third period. Lindsay Sparks beat a Jacksonville player to the puck in the Gladiators zone and chipped a pass off the glass to the neutral zone. Pond took the puck off the bounce and skated into the offensive zone, where he dropped a pass to Phil Lane on the three-on-one rush. The former member of the Brampton Battalion then threaded a shot into the top corner of the net for his team-leading 24th goal of the campaign.
To seal the victory, the Gladiators added an empty net goal with 45 seconds remaining to take the 4-1 win. Tanner Pond tallied his third point of the game with the goal, while Sparks notched his second with the primary assist. Derek Nesbitt added his name to the scoresheet with the secondary helper on the game’s final goal.
With the two-game sweep of the Icemen, Atlanta improved to 24-22-1-2 and increased their gap in third place in the South Division with 51 points. Meanwhile, Jacksonville dropped to 15-26-3-2 with the loss on home ice and remain at the bottom of the division with 35 points.
Up next, the Gladiators will finish their three-in-three stretch when they host the Solar Bears tomorrow evening. The puck drop between Atlanta and Orlando is scheduled for 7:05pm at the Infinite Energy Arena on Saturday.