TOLEDO, OH – The Atlanta Gladiators fell narrowly 3-2 to the Toledo Walleye in a shootout Friday evening. A great defensive effort, spearheaded by G Chris Nell, helped Atlanta gain a tough point on the road.
The fast-paced Walleye were quick to strike against the visiting Gladiators. Former Atlanta F Branden Troock and F T.J. Hensick assisted F Kyle Bonis just :36 seconds into the contest to give Toledo a 1-0 lead. It took the Glads a few minutes to match the Walleye’s pace, but they finally began to get their chances in the offensive zone. D Alexey Solovyev found F Scott Conway near the goal line before the forward dished a pass across the goal crease to F Samuel Asselin. The tip-in goal tied the game with 6:51 to play in the first.
With 3:10 to play in the opening frame, D Robbie Hall gathered the puck in the defensive zone before finding F Derek Nesbitt in the neutral zone. The Atlanta captain, and former Walleye, found Conway streaking into the offensive zone. He cut to the top of the face-off circle before his quick wristshot bested Toledo G Billy Christopoulos to give the visitors a 2-1 lead at the first intermission.
A defensive second period saw Chris Nell shine. The netminder had 21 saves on 22 shots after forty minutes of play. The home team ramped up their offensive onslaught in the third frame, outshooting Atlanta 21-3 in the period. Despite a valiant effort from Nell, the Walleye eventually found the back of the net again with 6:46 to play in regulation. F Shane Berschbach and D Blake Hillman assisted Toledo’s All-Star Josh Kestner to knot the game 2-2.
The contest saw the rest of regulation time and the seven-minute overtime period go scoreless. Atlanta failed to beat Christopoulos in the shootout, but Toledo’s Troy Loggins and Joshua Winquist netted shootout goals to snag the two points for the Walleye.
The Gladiators wrap up this brief two-game road trip Saturday evening when they visit the Indy Fuel at 6:05 PM. Atlanta returns to home ice Tuesday evening when they host the Utah Grizzlies at 7:05 PM. Fans are encouraged to get their Taco Tuesday tickets now!