DULUTH, GA - Atlanta headed to the third period trailing by a goal but got a late tally from Derek Nesbitt to send the South Division contest to overtime. Greenville notched a tally just over a minute into OT that sealed the victory for the Swamp Rabbits at the Infinite Energy Arena on Friday night.
Atlanta opened the scoring on the final night of November, thanks to a power play goal. Brett McKenzie won a puck battle in the near-side corner, and fed defenseman Zach Malatesta at the blue line. The Boston, MA native fired a wrister from the blue line that was redirected by Alex Overhardt in front of Greenville goaltender Chris Nell, which gave the Gladiators the early lead just 6:33 into the game.
The visitors answered at the 11:42 mark of the first period. Johno May brought the puck into the zone, slamming on the brakes in the far-side circle to put a shot on goal. Miroslav Svoboda made a pad stop that rebounded out to Chad Duschene at the blue line. He found Jon Jutzi, who buried a long shot to level the game at one.
Greenville grabbed the lead 3:11 into the middle period. After mounting offensive pressure by the Swamp Rabbits, May, already with an assist, found Branden Harms from the half boards. Harms was all-alone in front of the net, navigating around a scrambling Svoboda to put the go-ahead goal in the back of the net.
After multiple chances by the Gladiators were stymied, Atlanta finally found the equalizer in the third. Troock won a face-off out to the blue line where Danford walked down to the half-boards. He found Derek Nesbitt slicing down the slot. The most veteran player on the Gladiators beat Nell with a wrist shot to tie the game with 16:37 to play.
Both teams had some quality chances late, but the game shifted to overtime for the second straight time between these two rivals. It took Greenville only 1:08 to win the game in the extra session. Trevor Owens blazed into his offensive zone and had his wrist shot attempt stopped by Svoboda but Michael Pelech found the loose puck and smacked it home to give Greenville the extra point.
Atlanta earned a point in the standings and advanced to 13 on the campaign. The Swamp Rabbits’ two points with the OT victory gave them 17 total on the season.
Atlanta heads up I-85 for the back end of the home-and-home series with Greenville tomorrow night for a 7:00 pm duel at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena.