The Atlanta Gladiators returned to the Infinite Energy Arena on Tuesday night as they welcomed the Idaho Steelheads for the first of a four-game home-stand. Powered by a strong performance in net by Dan Vladar, the Gladiators took the 4-2 home victory.
The Gladiators opened the scoring with a four-on-four goal 6:18 into the opening frame. Drew Baker corralled a rebound that soared into the air in the offensive zone and found Eric Shand open for a pass. The rookie defender then sent a pass across the zone to Lindsay Sparks, who skated through two defenders before he deked past Idaho goalie Michael Bitzer and slipped in his 13th goal of the season.
Atlanta then doubled their lead to 2-0 with 7:00 minutes remaining in the first period. Tanner Pond stole the puck off a defender at the blue line of his own zone and sent a forwarding pass up to center ice. There, Phil Lane grabbed control of the puck and broke down the ice on a breakaway. Once in the zone, the Rochester, NY native faked a shot from the harsh marks before he lifted a shot over the blocker of Bitzer for his team-leading 28th goal of the year.
Just over a minute into the second period, the Gladiators struck on the power play to take a 3-0 lead. Branden Troock tallied his first goal with Atlanta, and 18th of the season, with a blast from the far-side point that sailed over Bitzer on the blocker side. Both Davis Vandane and Pond were credited with an assist on the power play goal.
Only eight seconds of playing time later Idaho struck to cut the deficit to 3-1. Jack Nevins won the faceoff at center ice and pushed the puck over to Aaron Harstad. The 6-foot-3 defender then skated into the zone and fired a shot towards net that hit off of the pads of Dan Vladar. Connor Chatham then collected the rebound and slid a shot into the net for his 11thgoal of the campaign.
The Steelheads then scored just :26 seconds into the third period to cut the score to 3-2. Steven McParland was credited with his 28th goal of the season after he snuck the puck by the toe of Vladar from the near-side post. Justin Parizek tallied the lone assist on the play.
An empty net goal from Derek Nesbitt sealed the 4-2 victory for the Gladiators. The win at home pushed Atlanta to a record of 29-31-1-2 and keeps the Gladiators in fourth in the South Division with 61 points. Meanwhile, Idaho dropped 35-20-4-3 but remain in second in the Mountain Division with 77 points.
Up next, Atlanta will have a day off tomorrow before returning to action against Jacksonville on Thursday evening. The puck drop between the Gladiators and Icemen is scheduled for 7:05pm at the Infinite Energy Arena on March 15th.