GREENVILLE, S.C. - The Atlanta Gladiators took the ice for the first time in a game situation as they traveled to Greenville for a preseason duel. The Swamp Rabbits took the 4-3 win on home ice as the Gladiators late comeback attempt fell just short.
Atlanta opened up the game’s scoring with a power play goal at the 12:06 mark of the first frame. Zach Malatesta took a shot from the circle that was blocked but came right back to him. The Boston, MA native wasted no time and blasted a quick snap shot over the shoulder of Greenville goalie, Garett Bartus. The goal was assisted by Tyler Deresky and Brett McKenzie.
The home side equalized the score with just over a minute to go in the first period. Jon Jutzi slammed home a cross-rink pass from Chris Izmirlian for his first of the preseason. The teams would go into the first intermission tied at one.
In the first minute of the second period the Swamp Rabbits struck again to make the score 2-1. Former Glad, Jake Bolton took a shot from the point that hit forward Mike Pelech in the backside. The puck caromed right to the stick of Will Merchant who put it in an open net giving the Rabbits the lead.
Greenville increased their advantage to two goals 7:05 into the middle session. Chad Duchesne sent a one-time shot from the point on a 5-on-3 power play between the legs of Atlanta netminder, Ed Minney. Luke Ripley and Izmirlian were credited with the helpers on the play.
The Swamp Rabbits moved their lead to three on a goal by Bolton. The defender took a slap shot from the point that hit traffic in front, and took a strange bounce into the back of the net. The goal came at 7:47 into the final stanza.
Atlanta notched their second of the night and decreased the deficit to two goals at the 17:38 mark of the third. Luke Sandler received a pass from McKenzie in the slot and wired the puck between the legs of the Greenville netminder for his first of the preseason.
The Gladiators continued the comeback push as they took advantage of a power play and the extra attacker with a late tally. Vytal Cote sent a wrist shot into the net from the high slot to bring the score to 4-3 with just a few seconds to go in the game. Tyler Howe registered the only assist on the play. The comeback ultimately fell just short and when the buzzer sounded, the Swamp Rabbits emerged winners by the score of 4-3.
Up next, Atlanta will play an intrasquad game at the Duluth IceForum on Sunday, October 7th before commencing the regular season on the road in Orlando on October 13th.