DULUTH, GA - The Gladiators were set for battle with their I-85 rivals for a Thanksgiving Eve game at the Infinite Energy Arena. Greenville goalie, Garrett Bartus, gave his team a chance with 42 saves, but Atlanta got an overtime tally from recent call-up, Don Olivieri to earn the two points and break the four-game losing streak Wednesday night.
Even though the Gladiators were outshooting Greenville heavily, the Swamp Rabbits opened the scoring at the 10:42 mark of the first period. Austen Brassard’s blue line shot was deflected by Atlanta goaltender Miroslav Svoboda. Michael Pelech was in prime position to push the rebound to the back of the net and give the visitors the early lead.
Greenville doubled their lead at the 9:00 mark in the second period with Atlanta outshooting the Rabbits 26-10 at the time. Johno May gathered a loose puck in the far-side corner, wrapped around behind the net and poked the puck beyond Svoboda.
Atlanta answered exactly :60 seconds later. Matt Lane, freshly returned from his time with AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals, navigated around Garrett Bartus on a breakaway to get the Gladiators on the board. Jake Flegel earned his first point as a Gladiator with the primary assist.
The Gladiators got level just :40 seconds before the second intermission. Zach Malatesta sent a wrister towards the goal from the blue line. His shot ricocheted off the wall behind the net and came to Garret Ross standing in front. The Michigan native found the back of the net, giving him points in his first five games with the Glads.
Atlanta was awarded a power play with just under five minutes remaining in the game and took full advantage to take the lead. After a furious net-mouth scramble, Zach Malatesta blasted a shot from the point that eluded Bartus for his first goal of the season. Jesse Gabrielle moved into the team-lead in power play assists with the primary while Ross earned his third point of the evening with the secondary helper.
The Swamp Rabbits pulled their goaltender in the final minute looking for the equalizer. Greenville used the 6-on-5 attack to secure the game-tying goal to knot the contest at three with only :40 seconds remaining. Brassard knocked home the rebound for his seventh goal of the season to send the game to overtime.
The Gladiators earned a power play late in regulation that carried over into the extra session. Atlanta worked the puck around their offensive zone before Brett McKenize sent a pass to Don Olivieri at the left point. The newcomer, in his first game with Atlanta after being called-up from Quad City of the SPHL, sailed a wrist shot over the shoulder of Bartus to give Atlanta the extra point and the 4-3 win.
Atlanta finally broke the four-game losing streak and advanced their point total to 12 on the campaign. Greenville was awarded one point with the OT loss and stay one above Atlanta with 13 in the standings with three more games-played than the Gladiators.
Up next, the Gladiators continue the long homestand with a Friday night game against the South Carolina Stingrays at the Infinite Energy Arena with puck drop set for 7:35 pm.