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RECAP: Ceci leads Gladiators to victory in first ECHL start

Monday, January 1st
RECAP: Ceci leads Gladiators to victory in first ECHL start

DULUTH, Ga. The Atlanta Gladiators beat the Savannah Ghost Pirates by a score of 5-3 Friday night, led by a heroic performance from goaltender Cole Ceci, who embarked on his first start in the ECHL after being signed from the Evansville Thunderbolts (SPHL)

BOX SCORE

First Star: Cole Ceci (ATL)

Second Star: Navrin Mutter (ATL)

Third Star: Luke Prokop (ATL)

The Gladiators continued their trend of fast starts as Ryan Cranford opened the scoring with a banked shot off the skate of a defender to put his team up 1-0. (8:05)

 Atlanta goaltender Cole Ceci was tested early in his first ECHL start, facing three Savannah power plays and utilizing his quick post-to-post speed and net-front awareness.

With under four minutes remaining in the opening period, the Ghost Pirates finally broke through as defenseman Brandon Estes scored on the power play after rifling a shot from the slot to tie the game at 1-1. (16:20)

The Gladiators regained the lead less than two minutes into the second period as Mitch Fossier buried Blake Evennou’s rebounded shot give Atlanta a 2-1 advantage. (1:51)

Ceci remained unflustered after allowing the first period goal, denying all 13 Savannah shots in the second stanza. 

The Gladiators turned on the heat in the first five minutes of the third period, enjoying the majority of puck possession in their offensive zone as the Gas South Arena crowd of 5,428 continued to get riled up.

The relentless pressure would pay off, as Navrin Mutter cashed in on a centering pass from Jackson Pierson to put Atlanta up by two goals with a comfortable 3-1 lead. (3:34)

  Savannah would respond just minutes later, however, as Pat Guay scored to bring his Ghost Pirates back   within one 3-2. (5:10) 

The Ghost Pirates continued to resist the narrative of a much-needed Gladiators victory, as Guay tallied his second of the night to tie the game at three apiece. (11:07) 

Sensing the pressure of the moment, Luke Prokop put the team on his back as he fired an absolute missile past the blocker of Jordan Papirny to put the Gladiators back in front in what would prove to be the game-winning goal. (13:50)

Micah Miller would seal things for the Gladiators, scoring the empty-netter to put his squad back in the win column. (19:51)

Papirny ended the night with just 20 saves off of 24 Atlanta shots while Ceci finished his first ECHL start with 34 saves off of 37 Savannah shots and the game’s first star honors.

Check out the highlights below. 

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