GREENVILLE, SC – The Gladiators took the ice once again with the Swamp Rabbits just 24 hours after defeating Greenville 3-0 the night prior looking for their four straight win. Goals from the most unlikely of heroes, Joe Widmar and Jake Flegel gave the Glads the advantage and Sean Bonar was incredible in net once again winning his fifth straight start as Atlanta earned the weekend sweep of the Swamp Rabbits with a 2-1 victory.
The home team came out of the gates strong and put on heavy pressure in the early minutes, however Atlanta goaltender ‘Bones’ Bonar stood tall and kept the Swamp Rabbits from an early tally. The Gladiators then used the momentum gained from Bonar’s strong play to get on the board first. With just over two minutes remaining in the opening period, Nick Bligh stole the puck on the near-side boards and skated it into the offensive zone. Once the Massachusetts native ran out of space, he found Widmar open at the front of the net who then tapped the puck into the goal for his first ever ECHL goal and it came against his former team.
Atlanta then doubled their lead at the 13:22 mark of the second period. Brett McKenzie fought for possession deep in the Greenville zone and came out of the corner with the puck. The former Vancouver Canucks draft pick then lifted a pass to Jake Flegel at the point. The fourth year defenseman rattled off a shot through traffic that sailed over the shoulder of Garrett Bartus to give the Gladiators a 2-0 lead.
The Gladiators could not hold the Swamp Rabbits off forever though, as the home team struck back with just 2:38 remaining in the middle frame. Johno May had the puck bounce to his stick in the near-side circle and wristed a shot towards net. Bonar was able to get the first save on the play, however, Brendan Harms picked up the rebound to the right of the netminder and slid a shot into the open net for his ninth goal of the year.
Greenville sent 13 shots on net in the third as they desperately tried to tie the game. Bonar had other ideas and stopped all 13 shots and the visitors held on for their fifth win in their last five games.
The Gladiators will have a day of rest tomorrow before they return home on Monday afternoon to take on the on the Jacksonville Icemen at the Infinite Energy Arena. The puck drops at 12:35pm for Atlanta’s annual MLK day game on January 21st.