GREENVILLE, SC - After early season struggles, the Atlanta Gladiators have engineered a season-high winning streak of three games after a 3-0 victory Friday night at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville. It was the newly minted “SOL” line consisting of Luke Stork, Alex Overhardt, and Matt Lane that produced five of the six points in the game.
Despite the home team bringing the early pressure, Atlanta goaltender Sean Bonar kept the Swamp Rabbits out of the net. His 15 saves negated an energized Greenville attack. The Gladiators began to turn the momentum in the middle frame. Greenville’s Chris Nell was matching Bonar in a shutout until the “SOL” line began to rear its head.
Overhardt and Lane have played together in Atlanta and Milwaukee this season, but they only had two skates together with Stork before Friday’s contest. Stork and Overhardt swapped the puck on the half-boards, eventually springing the latter clear to the middle of the slot. He dished to Lane, who played in his first Gladiators’ game since his return from Milwaukee. The Rochester, NY native blasted a one-timer on net. He did not catch the puck exactly how he intended, but the knuckleball-style shot fluttered past Nell to give the visitors the 1-0 advantage with 12:21 to play in the second period.
Atlanta kept up their offensive pressure through the middle of the period. Less than six minutes after their first tally, the “SOL” line produced another. After Lane’s initial shot was saved by Nell, he saucered the rebound to defenseman Zach Malatesta at the blue line. The Boston, MA native sent a long-range shot on net, but Nell stood in the way again. The rebound found its way to Stork on the edge of the blue paint, who put back the second chance to double the Atlanta lead.
The Gladiators continued a dominant effort in the final frame. Brett McKenzie put the exclamation point on the performance with the third Atlanta tally of the night. The Ottawa, ON native gathered the puck at center ice and skated around multiple Greenville defenders to the near-side face-off dot. His powerful wrister sliced around Nell to find the short-side netting and gave Atlanta a commanding 3-0 lead with 7:40 to play.
The Swamp Rabbits threw everything they could at the net at the tail-end of the third but Bonar shut down every Greenville attempt earning his second shutout of the season and the Glads the 3-0 victory. Atlanta pushed the winning streak to three games and notched their fourth win in their last five games. Greenville lost their fifth straight contest with the defeat on home ice.
The Gladiators take the ice in Greenville tomorrow night for the second of back-to-back games at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena. The puck drops at 7:00pm between the two I-85 rivals.