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Glads' Rally falls short vs. 'Rays

Saturday, November 24th
Glads' Rally falls short vs. 'Rays

DULUTH, GA  -  Despite a two-point game from leading scorer Branden Troock, the Atlanta Gladiators’ rally fell short Friday night. They fell 3-2 against the South Carolina Stingrays at home.

After a season-high 23 shots in the first period Wednesday led to no goals, Atlanta looked to convert early. The Gladiators earned the first tally just 1:15 into the contest. Troock sparked a three-on-two breakaway with linemates Jesse Gabrielle and Brett McKenzie. The Edmonton product found McKenzie at the top of the nearside circle. The Vancouver Canucks’ draft pick lifted a wrister beyond Stingrays’ goaltender Parker Milner to give Atlanta the early advantage.

South Carolina got level with 6:45 remaining in the opening frame. With Atlanta on the power play, a big blue line hit sent Sam Fioretti on a short-handed break. He fed Tad Kozun at the far side blue line, where the Saskatchewan native walked down on Miroslav Svoboda and beat the Czech goalie to tie the game at one.

The visitors brought the pressure in the middle frame, outshooting Atlanta 17-0. Svoboda and the Atlanta defense held off the Stingray pressure until exactly 1:00 remaining. Joey Leach’s blue line shot rebounded in the crease to Nick Roberto. The Wakefield, MA native found Patrick Gaul on the backside of Svoboda for the go-ahead score.

The Gladiators were called for a high-sticking penalty just 0:19 into the final period. It did not take long for South Carolina’s top line to strike. Tim Davison fed Grant Besse for a one-timer from the top of the near-side circle just :08 seconds into the power play and :27 seconds into the period. That shot beat Svoboda and doubled the Stingray lead. 

The home team was sparked by a five-minute major penalty issued to Kozan after a takedown of Zach Malatesta. Atlanta pressured the ‘Rays constantly on the man-advantage. With 3:43 remaining, Derek Nesbitt’s blue line blast was deflected in front to Alex Overhardt. The Cherry Hill, CO native found Troock for a close chance. He buried the shot to bring Atlanta within one. Despite a relentless flurry of chances down the stretch, the home team did not find the equalizer.

For South Carolina, the win gives 20 points (10-8-0-0) on the season, while the loss keeps Atlanta at 10 (5-9-2-0).

ROAD AHEAD

Atlanta concludes this home stand next Friday against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. Puck drop is 7:35 PM from Infinite Energy Arena in Duluth.

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