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Florida Doubles Up Atlanta 6-3

Sunday, November 18th
Florida Doubles Up Atlanta 6-3

DULUTH, GA  -  The Atlanta Gladiators continued Hockey Fights Cancer Weekend Saturday night against the South Division rival Florida Everblades. Goaltender Miroslav Svoboda made 40-plus saves for the second night in a row, but was unable to earn the win as Florida notched the 6-3 victory.

The villains opened the scoring on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Night at the 2:45 mark of the first period. Florida defenseman Olivier Dame-Malka scrambled to keep the puck in the offensive zone, finding Kyle Platzer at the bottom of the far-side circle. Platzer fed Joe Cox on the backside of the net and Cox gave Florida the early lead. 

The Everblades doubled their advantage less than three minutes later. Atlanta had earned a power play, thanks to a Josh Wesley slashing penalty but the Glads’ defender failed to gather in a pass at the blue line and Nathan Perkovich found the puck with breakaway chance. Perkovich beat Svoboda to give Florida the 2-0 lead just 5:28 into the game.

Matters got worse for the home team just :18 seconds into the second period. Mitch Vandergunst slid the puck to the blue line, where Derek Sheppard’s blast found the back of the net to give the Everblades a 3-0 lead.

The Gladiators broke the shutout at the 15:04 mark of the second period. Garret Ross dispossessed Derek Sheppard before centering the puck in front of Florida goaltender Jamie Phillips. Nolan LaPorte finished the close chance to put the home team on the board.

Florida regained control 6:45 into the third period, as Kyle Platzer fed a puck into the offensive zone. Joe Cox, already sitting on at the point, set up Jordon Southorn on his blast from the top of the circle. 

Atlanta showed some life, as Boston Bruins’ draft pick Jesse Gabrielle navigated multiple defenders on the wall to earn some open ice. His pinpoint pass threaded between multiple Florida defenders to Derek Nesbitt at the near-side of the slot. Nesbitt’s shot redirected to Alex Overhardt, who poked home his fourth goal of the season.

Florida’s ECHL-leading defense sprung the next score, as John McCarron and Blake Winiecki broke a two-on-one chance. McCarron hesitated on the shot, navigated around a diving Svoboda, and found the net to give the Everblades a 5-2 lead.

The Gladiators refused to go down quietly. After a face-off win, Nesbitt sent a shot from the top of the circles. His chance was redirected by Justin MacDonald in front of the net, bringing Atlanta back within two again.

The final nail came with just 1:09 to play. A blue line pass was broken up by David Friedmann in transition. Friedmann capitalized on his breakaway try after the turnover and salted away the victory for the visitors. 

The victory gives Florida 14 points on the young season at a record of 6-5-2-0. Atlanta drops their second straight at home and sits at 10 points on the campaign.

ROAD AHEAD

The Gladiators conclude the Hockey Fights Cancer Weekend Sunday afternoon against the Florida Everblades. Puck drop is 3:05 PM at Infinite Energy Arena.

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