N. CHARLESTON, S.C. - The Atlanta Gladiators took to the ice with a depleted roster due to injuries and call-ups in South Carolina. A hard fought effort including a two-goal comeback in the third was enough to earn the team a point, but the Glads ultimately fell to the Stingrays 3-2 in a shootout.
The Gladiators were the aggressors against their rivals from North Charleston in the early going. Brett McKenzie led the way with three first-period shots, but Atlanta failed to convert and entered the first intermission with no score.
The ‘Rays began to even the shots in the middle frame. Atlanta was called for a slashing penalty with 9:04 remaining in the period. Andrew Cherniwchan dug the puck off of the boards and found Joey Leach at the blue line. Leach’s slap pass found Tad Kozun, who slid the puck to the top of the crease. Cameron Askew’s slap shot beat Atlanta goalie, Sean Bonar and gave the home team a 1-0 lead.
South Carolina opened the third period as well as they could want. Just :12 seconds into the frame, the two ‘Rays sitting on an assist each added another. Leach found Kozun behind the net, and he fed Cherniwchan right in front of the net. His shot beat Bonar and doubled the South Carolina lead.
It was at this point Glads’ Tyler Deresky took over the game. David Mazurek found Deresky in the far-side corner. The forward skated around the back of Gordon Defiel’s net, wrapping around to push the puck past the ‘Rays goaltender and getting Atlanta on the board with his first goal since November 3rd.
Deresky continued his white-hot third period after a steal in the defensive zone. He and Zach Malatesta forced South Carolina into a two-on-one situation. Deresky never faked the pass to Malatesta, and wristed a shot from the far-side, face-off dot to net his second tally and tie the game 2-2.
Both teams had their chances through the end of the period, but remained tied to force overtime. Atlanta had potentially the best opportunity of the overtime period when a deflected shot skittered within an inch of the goal line before it was cleared by Defiel.
After 65:00 minutes, these two teams had to settle the score in a shootout. New Gladiator Nick Bligh found the net, but was matched by Cherniwchan. Jesse Gabrielle’s shot was awkwardly saved by Defiel, while Jonathan Charbonneau netted the goal on the other end. The result came down to another newcomer to this year’s team, Jared Ross. His attempt was stifled by Defiel and South Carolina escaped with the shootout win.
Atlanta picked up a point to reach 15 total on the year, while the win gives the ‘Rays 30 points on the season.
Atlanta continues their three-game road trip Friday night with a visit to the Jacksonville Icemen at 7:30 PM.