NORFOLK, VA– The Atlanta Gladiators fell to the Norfolk Admirals 3-2 Saturday evening in their first visit to the Chesapeake Bay in the 2019-2020 season, despite a 2-0 lead at the first intermission.
Less than 24 hours removed from their last contest, the opening minutes saw both squads feeling each other out before a slashing penalty put the hosting Admirals on the man-advantage. Captain Derek Nesbitt broke up a pass in the defensive zone before finding F Eric Neiley near the defensive blue line. The Warminster, PA native feathered a stretch pass to F Nick Bligh to create a short-handed breakaway chance. Bligh bested Norfolk G Ben Halverson to take the 1-0 lead with just over five minutes to play in the opening frame.
Norfolk F Alex Rodriguez earned an elbowing minor penalty to give Atlanta their first power play opportunity of the night. F Luke Nogard won a face-off roughly three minutes after the opening tally before feeding F Zach Malatesta near the blue line. His long-range blast was redirected by Nogard and skittered past Halverson to double the Glads’ advantage before the first intermission.
With their fans clinging to an assortment of stuffed animals in the stands, the Admirals would bounce back in the second period. Half way through the middle frame, D Brandon Rumble and F Shawn McBride found D Johnny Coughlin to bring Norfolk within one. The game took a brief, 10-minute pause to clean up the shower of teddy bears littering the ice.
The home team continued to build the momentum in their favor following the opening tally. D Brayden Sherbinin found F Ryan Sakeld for the game-tying goal with 4:22 to play in the middle period.
Norfolk rode the swing in momentum with a key go-ahead score half way through the third frame. F Josh Holmstrom found F Zack Phillips for a shot that beat G Sean Bonar, but bounced off the goal post. The rebound found Phillips a second time and the Fredericton, New Brunswick native did not miss the second chance and gave the Admirals their first lead with 9:00 to play. Atlanta pulled the goalie with :84 second remaining and even earned a power play to create a 6-on-4 advantage in the waning seconds. Their rally fell short as they dropped their second contest in as many nights.
Atlanta hits the ice again on Wednesday evening when they visit the Florida Everblades at 7:30 PM. The Gladiators return to Infinite Energy Arena on Saturday, December 21stwhen they square off with the Orlando Solar Bears at 7:05 PM on Holly Jolly Hockey Christmas night. Fans can participate in an Ugly Sweater Contest as well as the Magic Envelope Giveaway that fans can receive upon entry. Gifts range anywhere from Gladiators’ discounts to $500 in Delta travel credit. Secure your tickets today.