DULUTH, GA – The Atlanta Gladiators downed the rival Greenville Swamp Rabbits 3-1 Thursday night thanks in large part to a 46-save performance from G Chris Nell. Forwards Avery Peterson, Tommy Marchin, and Scott Conway each notched a goal in the team’s 15th victory of the campaign.
The visiting Swamp Rabbits took only 2:31 to strike. F Adam Rockwood found F Cedric Lacroix streaking past Nell’s net. The Quebec native dumped the puck into the slot where F Patrick Bajkov had an uncontested look. His team-leading 16th goal of the season gave Greenville the early lead.
After a sluggish start, the Gladiators were sparked to life by clean passing that led to a game-tying goal. F Avery Peterson found D Joel Messner in the slot with a good look at G Ryan Bednard’s net. Instead of forcing a shot, he dished to Conway for a wide-open shot to tie the game with 8:03 to play in the opening frame. As fans began to settle back into their seat, Atlanta’s representative in the ECHL All-Star Game gave them a reason to get on their feet again. Just :39 seconds after Conway’s tally, F Samuel Asselin found Marchin for his 11 goal of the season to give the Gladiators the lead at the first intermission.
To Greenville’s credit, they hunkered down in the defensive zone in the middle period. The visiting Swamp Rabbits seemed to slow the pace and lull the Gladiators into a false sense of security despite just a one-goal advantage. Atlanta needed a great individual play in the third period to create separation. At the 2:12 mark of the final frame, they would get it. D Cody Corbett and F Logan Nelson found Peterson near the halfboards. That is where the Grand Rapids, MN native launched a wide-angle shot that beat Bednard to double the Glads’ lead. Despite pulling the goaltender, Greenville failed to beat Nell the rest of the night.
The Gladiators hit home ice again Friday evening when they host the Jacksonville Icemen at 7:35 PM. Fans are encouraged to get their tickets to Flashback Friday now, and dress up in their best 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s garb for the costume contest!