DULUTH, GA – The Gladiators had their sights set on a postseason position at the end of the night as the conference-leading Florida Everblades came to town. The Gladiators fought hard and earned a point in a tight defensive battle as they moved into a tie with the South Carolina Stingrays for the final playoff spot in the South Division.
Atlanta saddled the visiting Everblades with a flurry of pressure early and often. The home team, playing as the Atlanta Flames in the first period, snagged the opening score roughly half way through the opening frame. Zach Malatesta displayed his prowess as a forward with a beautiful toe drag before finding Matt Lane in a threatening position. His one-timer was saved by Callum Booth before trickling to Nolan LaPorte, who buried the second chance opportunity to give Atlanta the first tally.
The division-leading Everblades would not stay down for long. The visitors began to bring more offensive pressure early in the middle period, as Justin Wade and Jay Dickman found Shane Walsh on a wild bounce to tie the game at one just six minutes into the second period. The Atlanta ‘Knights’ clamped down defensively after that in the second period and even into their Thrashers foray in the third period.
Both teams stood tall in the final 20 minutes of regulation despite many near chances by the then-named Thrashers to steal a win in regulation. After five minutes of overtime, Atlanta remained tied with Florida. It would take a shootout to separate the two squads. Blake Winiecki was the only skater to find the back of the net in the three-man shootout as he beat Bonar with a five-hole shot. His tally lifted Florida to the 2-1 shootout win, but the point earned by Atlanta positioned them into the fourth and final playoff spot in the South Division.
Atlanta returns to their designated persona of the Gladiators on Sunday afternoon when they host the Norfolk Admirals at 3:05 PM. Get your tickets today at atlantagladiators.com.