DULUTH, GA – The Gladiators closed out the season series with Greenville with the 14th, and final, matchup of the year against the Swamp Rabbits at home on Sunday afternoon. After a slow start for the home side, Matt Lane led the way for the Glads with a goal and an assist as Atlanta held on for a 3-2 win.
A lethargic start to the Sunday afternoon affair picked up when the visiting Swamp Rabbits began to push the pace in the latter stages of the opening frame. Brendan Harms was denied on a breakaway by Sean Bonar on two occasions, including a diving, stacked-pad save that brought the crowd to its feet. Unfortunately, Greenville managed to convert one of those early chances into the opening score, when J.C. Brassard and Michael Pelech found Danny Elser for the first goal of the afternoon with 4:50 to play in the first period.
Atlanta began to gain some offensive momentum in the middle of the second period. After failing to threaten on their first power play chance of the day, a second penalty call sparked the game-tying sequence. With Bonar on the bench, Brett McKenzie found Avery Peterson at the point. He twirled a pass to Jake Flegel in the far side face-off circle, where the one-time blast found the back of the net with 8:22 to play in the middle frame.
The Gladiators earned a power play in the final seconds of the second frame in a multi-player scrum. The man-advantage held over to the first moments of the third period, and gave Atlanta a chance to take the lead for the first time in the contest. Lane gathered the puck on the far wall before shuttling a pass to newcomer Brady Fleurent on the near side. He rocketed a pass to the back door beyond Greenville netminder, Kyle Hayton, where Joe Widmar tipped in the go-ahead score just 1:45 into the final frame. Greenville pressured down the stretch, but it was Lane with a toe drag and wrist shot that gave Atlanta a two-goal lead in the closing minutes.
The scrappy Swamp Rabbits converted on a 6-on-5 man-advantage with :15 seconds to play, but could not complete the comeback giving the Glads the win as they close out the season series against Greenville with a 8-4-2 record. Atlanta improved their home point streak to six games as they are now 13-1-1-1 in their last 16 home contests. The victory brings the Gladiators within two points of South Carolina for the final South Division playoff position with three games in hand, and four points back of Jacksonville for the third seed with one less game played than the Icemen.
Atlanta returns to the Infinite Energy Center Wednesday, March 27th, when they host the Orlando Solar Bears at 7:35 PM. The Gladiators, in partnership with the the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, host a pre-game VIP Experience with local MLS stars Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Hector Villalba, and Eric Remedi. The night will also include our first-ever French Bulldog race. Get tickets today at atlantagladiators.com!