DULUTH, Ga - The Atlanta Gladiators took the ice for the first time on home ice at the Infinite Energy Arena as they played host to division rival, the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. A strong second period where the Gladiators notched four goals was too much for visitors as Atlanta was victorious in their home-opener on Friday night.
After a scoreless first period, the Gladiators notched their first tally of the evening on the power play at the 4:39 mark of the second period. Two Nashville Predators prospects, Zach Magwood and Carl Persson, earned their first points as Gladiators and they teamed up to find Olivier Galipeau open in the slot. The Quebec native then ripped a snap shot over the shoulder of Greenville goalie, Garrett Bartus for his second tally in as many games.
Atlanta increased the lead to two with a shorthanded goal 6:40 into the middle session. Justin MacDonald striped the Greenville defender of the puck and advanced down the ice all alone on a breakaway. The Newmarket, ON native slid a backhand shot five-hole for his first goal as a Gladiator and the unassisted shorthanded mark.
An even strength tally 11:02 into the second period pushed Atlanta’s lead to 3-0. Derek Nesbitt skated around the back of the Swamp Rabbit net looking for an opening. He eventually found Jesse Gabrielle streaking towards the front of the net where the Boston Bruins prospect then slammed a shot over the shoulder of Bartus for his first goal with Atlanta. Ben Danford earned the secondary assist on the third Glads’ tally.
The visitors got back to within two goals with a notch early in the third period. Chris Izmirlian fed Dylan Vander Esch skating into the Atlanta zone. The rookie forward sent a shot over the shoulder of Gladiators goalie, Miroslav Svoboda for his first professional goal.
The Gladiators re-gained their three-goal advantage with exactly 8:00 minutes left in the contest. Branden Troock sped into his offensive third down the wing. The Edmonton, AB native saw an opening over the right shoulder of Bartus and labeled a wrist shot into the top corner of the net for his first goal on the campaign. Brett McKenzie and Galipeau received credit for the helpers on the play.
Atlanta would hold on for the 4-1 victory as the final horn sounded. With the home-opening win, the Glads moved into first place in the South Division with a 2-0-0-0 record and four points. Greenville’s lost marked their first defeat in regulation time and dropped their record to 1-1-1-0 with three points thus far.
Up next, Atlanta will host the Orlando Solar Bears for a Saturday night showdown at the Infinite Energy Arena. The South Division duel is scheduled for a 7:35pm puck drop.