ESTERO, FL - The Atlanta Gladiators dropped the first of two matchups against their divisional rival Florida Everblades in a 5-3 Valentine's Day defeat.
Similar to Tuesday's matchup in Atlanta, the team that stuck first did not finish as the victor. The Glads opened the scoring Friday night when D Zach Malatesta scored a power play goal assisted by F Scott Conway and F Logan Nelson 2:22 into the first period. However, it was Everblades D Cody Sol who found the back of the net twice in the first period, 11:27 and 15:42 respectively, to give the Everblades a one-goal lead heading into the second period.
The second period opened up with a goal by F Hunter Garlent at 3:07 to widen Florida's lead. Ten minutes later, Gladiators F Eric Neiley battled hard for a rebound in front of the net to bring the Glads within one. Just under a minute later, it was ‘Blades F Hugo Roy who scored with help from F Lukas Craggs to give Florida another two-goal lead.
The third period was scoreless for over half the frame until F Tommy Marchin tipped a D Zach Malatesta shot to bring the Glads within one. After a valiant effort pulling G Callum Booth, Everblades F Levko Koper struck on an empty net to seal the game for Florida.
The Gladiators take the ice again in Estero Saturday night when they battle these same Florida Everblades at X PM. Atlanta returns to home ice Tuesday evening when they host the Adirondack Thunder in Taco Tuesday.