DULUTH, GA – The Atlanta Gladiators overpowered the Florida Everblades 3-1 in the annual Education Day game at Infinite Energy Arena Tuesday. D Joel Messner and F Thomas Frazee each registered two assists in the win.
Atlanta looked to establish continuity in the defensive zone with solid checking and disrupted passes. They made life difficult early and often for the high-flying Everblades, as the visitors failed to consistently generate their offensive attack through the neutral zone. Florida’s struggling power play (12.5%, last in ECHL) looked to rebound against the Gladiators’ penalty kill. Atlanta was up to the task, killing Florida’s man-advantage in the first period.
G Callum Booth stood tally for Atlanta, but it was a great individual effort from Everblades F Hunter Garlent that resulted in the opening score. He spun around a defender before dishing to F Blake Winiecki, who buried the open-net chance to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
Everblades D Patrick McCarron earned an interference penalty late in the opening frame, putting Atlanta on the power play with 1:35 to play in the first. Messner found Frazee in the neutral zone before feeding F Samuel Asselin in the left-side face-off circle. The team’s goal-scoring leader netted his 21st of the season on a high wrist shot that beat Florida G Ken Appleby and sent the game to the first break level at one.
Florida unsurprisingly began the second period with a sense of urgency. On multiple accounts, the Glads could not clear the puck from their defensive zone under the onslaught of Everblades’ shots. Booth continued to dive, making numerous stops to keep the game tied. After 40 minutes, neither team had snagged their second goal.
The Everblades’ penalty kill had survived a few opportunities in the third period before breaking. Just :55 seconds after Florida C John McCarron went to the penalty box, D Michael Downing earned a double-minor elbowing penalty after a hit on F Eric Neiley. The call gave Atlanta over a minute of 5-on-3 advantage. Joel Messner and Thomas Frazee hooked up for the second time in the day, this time feeding F Logan Nelson for a one-time shot from the left face-off circle to give the Gladiators the lead with 6:13 to play.
By scoring before the two-minute mark of the double-minor penalty, Atlanta kept their 5- on-4 advantage after scoring the go-ahead goal. F Anthony Collins sent a puck into the slot where All-Star F Tommy Marchin managed to shuffle the puck to a wide-open Avery Peterson. The Minnesotan wripped a quick shot by Appleby to double the Glads’ advantage only :33 seconds after Nelson’s tally. Even with an empty-net advantage, Florida never beat Booth again as Atlanta grabbed their second win in a row.
The Gladiators take the ice again Friday evening when they visit these same Florida Everblades at 7:30 PM. Atlanta returns to Infinite Energy Arena on Tuesday, February 18th when the host the Adirondack Thunder for a Taco Tuesday showdown at 7:05 PM.