DULUTH, GA - The Atlanta Gladiators came up short 5-3 against the division-leading South Carolina Stingrays Wednesday night at Infinite Energy Arena. Despite a late goal from newly-reassigned F Samuel Asselin, the Glads could not complete the comeback.
In a direct reversal of the last two contests, Atlanta came out as the aggressor in the opening period. F Logan Nelson found F Luke Nogard behind the net before the Mississauga, ON native wrapped the puck around the cage and poked it in before South Carolina G Logan Thompson could recover. After Tom Parisi earned a tripping minor penalty, the Gladiators loaded up their top five power play unit. D Joel Messner and Asselin found F Eric Neiley on the backside of a play before the veteran buried the chance to double the Glads' advantage.
The Stingrays would need to answer in a big way in the second period to get back into the game. Unfortunately for Atlanta, they did just that. F Cole Ully struck twice for South Carolina to tie the game less than four minutes into the middle frame. F Jonathan Charbonneau gathered a Gladiators' clearance attempt on the wall before walking into the face-off circle and firing a shot. The puck redirected off of Atlanta D Zach Malatesta and found the back of the net to give South Carolina the improbably lead with 14:49 to play in the second. Despite the scoring barrage from the visitors, the Glads hung tough to close out the second period with a one-goal deficit.
Despite a concerted effort in the offensive zone in the final period, the Gladiators could not find the next goal to tie the game. F Mark Cooper fed F Dan DeSalvo on a two-on-one breakaway before the Rays' point leader netted the crucial fourth goal. Messner and Nelson fed Asselin for a third goal, inching Atlanta back within one at the 18:55 mark. F Andrew Cherniwchan put the game on ice with the empty-net goal in the final seconds.
Atlanta hit the road for back to back games Friday and Saturday evening against the Orlando Solar Bears. The Gladiators return home Friday, December 13th when they host the Jacksonville Icemen at 7:35 PM. That night features the "Sing for Santa" event that brings hundreds of choral students to Infinite Energy Arena to celebrate the holiday season. Fans can still secure their tickets today!