DULUTH, GA – The Atlanta Gladiators dismantled the Norfolk Admirals 7-0 in front of a season-high 10,626 fans that showered the ice with their teddy bears after F Scott Conway’s goal early in the second period. G Callum Booth registered a 30-save shutout and seven Gladiators registered multi-point games in the win.
Atlanta’s biggest night of the year saw the home team come out sharp from the opening face-off. The Gladiators assaulted the Norfolk net, forcing G Michael McNiven to stop 18 first period shots. Despite the avalanche of attempts, the teams went to the locker room for the first intermission scoreless.
Just :44 seconds into the middle frame, the flood gates opened. All-star F Tommy Marchin sent a wide-angle shot on McNiven, where the Admirals netminder initially steered it aside. F Scott Conway was waiting at the edge of the goal crease, pushing the rebound into the back of the net for his 13th goal of the season. The opening goal of the night triggered a monsoon of flying fluff. A team-record 8,763 stuffed animals were collected off of the ice for donation, shattering last year’s tally of 6,072.
Around the halfway mark of the second period, captain Derek Nesbitt continued his hot streak by finding his way onto the score sheet. Coming off of a three-point game Wednesday that saw him net his 300thprofessional goal, the veteran scored back-to-back goals in a three-minute span to balloon the lead to 3-0. The high-flying Glads were not done in the middle frame, as F Samuel Asselin and F Eric Neiley punched in a pair of goals within :59 seconds of each other to give Atlanta a commanding 5-0 lead at the second intermission.
F Reid Jackman joined the scoring frenzy when he ripped a wrist shot by McNiven to score his first goal with Atlanta. Asselin assisted D Alexey Solovyev on his 3rd tally of the campaign with 4:39 to play in the game. Booth continued to stand on his head, holding off Norfolk after they outshot the Gladiators 11-8 in the final period. The shutout victory was the second of its kind this season, after Atlanta earned a 1-0 win over Brampton on January 12th.
The Gladiators hit the road Sunday afternoon for a 2:05 PM matchup with their division rival Greenville Swamp Rabbits. Atlanta returns to home ice on Tuesday February 11th when they host the Florida Everblades at the annual Education Day game at 10:35 AM.