DULUTH, GA – The Atlanta Gladiators came up short in overtime against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits 7-6 in Monday’s MLK Day matinee presented by Northside Hospital. All-star forward Tommy Marchin registered the team’s fourth hat trick of the season in the extra time loss.
The aforementioned Marchin wasted no time in vying for his first hat trick of the season. Just :31 seconds into the contest, F Scott Conway and D Chris Forney assisted Marchin on a shot from the halfboards that beat Greenville G Jeremy Helvig. Less than two minutes later, the team’s lone All-Star pushed a second past Helvig to double the advantage. In a six-minute span through the middle of the opening frame, Atlanta’s defense surrendered three unanswered goals by the Swamp Rabbits. D Mike Monfredo, F Kamerin Nault, and F Mason Baptista all found the back of the net to give the visitiors a 3-2 lead. It was Atlanta’s Avery Peterson, with help from F Logan Nelson, that got the game level again. His quick wristshot tied the game 3-3 before the first intermission.
The early stages of the second period were dominated by Greenville’s defense. While they were keeping the Glads at bay, Baptista struck again to regain the lead. At 7:24 into the middle frame, F Michael Pelech snagged his 10th goal of the season to balloon the Swamp Rabbits’ lead to two. Atlanta D Joel Messner brought the crowd to its feet when he finished a two-on-one chance bringing the Glads within one at 5-4. But :44 seconds after the defenseman’s score, Mason Baptista struck again. Assisted by F Cedric Lacroix and D Chad Duschene, the North York, ON native netted his third goal of the game to regain Greenville’s two-goal advantage. In a frantic power play to finish the second, captain Derek Nesbitt and Messner assisted F Samuel Asselin on his 16th goal of the season to bring the score to 6-5 with just :26 seconds to play in the middle frame.
Both teams stepped up their defensive execution in the third period, as neither team cracked the scoreboard for nearly twelve minutes. Asselin and F Eric Neiley threw shots on net before Marchin cleaned up scoring chance with his third goal of the afternoon. It was the second straight home game a Gladiators’ player earned a hat trick following Asselin’s on Friday evening. Neither team scored again in the third, sending the high-scoring affair to overtime.
Atlanta controlled the puck in the first half of the overtime period, throwing a few quality chances at Helvig. With just over two minutes to play until the shootout, D Dylan McPherson tossed the puck in front of G Chris Nell before Nault punched it past the netminder to give Greenville an exciting 7-6 overtime win.
All ECHL teams have a break this week, as the 2020 Warrior ECHL All-Star Classic takes place in Wichita, KS. Tommy Marchin will take part in the Accuracy Challenge Tuesday, and play in the game Wednesday. The Gladiators hit the ice again Friday at 7:15 PM when they visit the Toledo Walleye. Atlanta returns to home ice on Tuesday, January 28th at 7:05 PM against the Utah Grizzlies. Fans are encouraged to snag their Taco Tuesday tickets now!