DULUTH, GA - The Atlanta Gladiators defeated the Jacksonville Icemen 4-1 Saturday evening to break above a .500 winning percentage for the first time since October 20th. Ten different players notched a point for Atlanta as the team matched their season-high winning streak at three games.
The Gladiators looked to carry the offensive magic of Friday night's win into the Saturday showdown, but the defense would own the first period. Hours after G Sean Bonar was recalled to Providence, G Martin Ouellette stepped into the full-time starting role and delivered a sharp performance. Atlanta opened the second period on a power play and gained a two-man advantage just :27 seconds into the frame. F Nick Bligh found F Eric Neiley speeding into the offensive zone, creating a two-on-one rush. Neiley dished the puck to F Avery Peterson on the edge of the face-off circle before the Grand Rapids, MN native launched a one-timer that beat Icemen G Adam Carlson.
Jacksonville pulled level with 5:10 left in the middle frame when Mike Hedden assisted Graeme Craig. Just when it seemed Atlanta was in for another close contest, the offense struck. D Anthony Collins and D Rob Powers found team captain Derek Nesbitt for an uncontested blast from the face-off dot that regained the lead for the Glads with 1:20 to play in the second. With the crowd still buzzing, team point leader Dante Hannoun sliced through multiple defenders to backhand another score. Atlanta took the 3-1 advantage into the second break.
Ouellette and the defense continued to show out in the final frame, but the offense was not done. Newly-acquired D Robbie Hall gathered the puck at the expiration of a penalty kill and found F Luke Nogard leaving the penalty box uncovered. Nogard deked Carlson in net to bury the breakaway chance and finish any thought of an Icemen rally. That was Hall's third assist in just his second game as a Gladiator.
To cap off the night, a fight between Jacksonville's Dalton Thrower and Collins brought the crowd to their feet. After a frantic scrum, Collins skated around the ice and gestured to the fans as if to say "are you not entertained?" The Gladiators faithful certainly got their money's worth Saturday evening.
The team continues the home stand Wednesday evening when they host the Norfolk Admirals at 7:05 PM. Fans can still secure their tickets today! The Gladiators host Greenville Friday evening on Zombie Night, where the team will have its' first $5 Frenzy of the season. 2,500 Zombie Night dri-fit t-shirts will be available while supplies last. Fans can secure their tickets to Zombie Night today!