The Atlanta Gladiators returned to the Infinite Energy Arena for the first time in two-and-a-half weeks as they welcomed the Orlando Solar Bears on Wednesday night. An offensive outburst saw four different Gladiators record a multiple-point performance in Atlanta’s dominating 6-1 win.
Atlanta opened the game’s scoring 10:21 into the first period with a power play goal. Luke Sandler won the faceoff in the offensive zone and sent a pass to Drew Baker at the point. The Alpharetta, GA native then faked a shot and instead moved the puck over to Eric Shand, who sent a one-timer into the back of the net for his third goal of his season.
The Gladiators then took a 2-0 lead at the 16:21 mark of the opening frame. Tanner Pond collected the puck on the boards after a turnover and sent a shot towards the net. There, Darby Llewellyn got his stick on the puck and redirected it into the net for his 14th goal of the year. Taylor Stefishen tallied the secondary assist on the play.
With just over three seconds left in the first period, Atlanta struck again on the power play to take a 3-0 lead. Newcomer, Branden Troock took a slap shot from the point that was stopped by the pad of Solar Bears goalie, Cal Heeter. Phil Lane corralled the rebound and pushed the puck over to an open Pond. The rookie then slipped a shot into the open frame to accumulate his 13th goal on the campaign.
The home side found the net just 1:45 into the middle frame to increase their lead to 4-0. Todd Skirving won the faceoff to the right of the Orlando zone and left the puck directly behind him. Stephen Pierog picked up the loose disc and fired a shot into the top of the net for his sixth of the year.
Atlanta tallied their third power play goal of the game at the 7:47 mark of the second period to take the 5-0 lead. Shand was credited with his second goal of the night after he redirected a pass into the back of the net from the back door. Baker and Pierog also notched their second point of the night on the play.
Another power play tally at the 13:34 mark of the middle period gave the Gladiators a 6-0 lead. Pond received a pass in the near-side circle and wired a shot that hit off the crossbar and fell into the net for his second of the game. Both Derek Nesbitt and Davis Vandane added their name to the scoresheet with an assist on the shot.
Orlando added a shorthanded goal at the 15:20 mark of the third period to cut the lead to 6-1. Max Novak picked up his 16th goal of the season with a shot over Sean Bonar on the breakaway. Adam Phillips tallied the lone assist on the play.
With their dominating home ice victory, Atlanta improved to 28-30-1-2 and remain in fourth in the South Division with 59 points. Meanwhile, Orlando dropped to 28-26-5-1 but maintained their position in third in the division with 62 points.
Up next, Atlanta will hit the road for a weekend divisional matchup with South Carolina. The Gladiators and Stingrays are scheduled to faceoff at 7:05pm on Saturday at the North Charleston Coliseum.