DULUTH, Ga. - The Atlanta Gladiators (13-22-2-0) were dealt a heartbreaking overtime loss at the hands of the South Carolina Stingrays (20-14-2-0) Saturday night in front of an electric Star Wars Night crowd with a final score of 5-4.
First Star: Jack Adams (SC)
Second Star: Nolan Burke (ATL)
Third Star: Micah Miller (ATL)
Taking exception to their slow start the previous night, the Gladiators brought their identity of starting games fast to new heights as they jumped out to a two-goal lead with tallies from Nolan Burke and Navrin Mutter.
Burke’s goal came after seven minutes had eclipsed in the contest, burying Zach Yoder’s rebound to put the Gladiators up 1-0. (7:26)
Mutter took the honors of netting the Gladiators’ second tally, cashing in on a lasered centering feed from Burke to double their lead 2-0. (11:00)
Unfortunately for the Gladiators, the Stingrays would seek to spoil the fun of a raucous Star Wars Night crowd of 7,480 after Jack Adams scored on the power play, cutting their lead in half to 2-1. (16:59)
The Gladiators threw another good punch to start the second frame with a goal from Micah Miller after a Luke Prokop shot dinked off the crossbar right into his stick to extend the Atlanta advantage to 3-1. (4:30)
Ever the spoilers, South Carolina responded with two goals in less than two minutes to tie the game at three apiece.
The first goal came from Adams as he slid the puck through the five-hole of Brad Barone, his second of the game to bring the score back within one. (6:59)
Josh Wilkins was the benefactor of the game-tying goal as he sniped the top left corner, furthering the huge momentum swing in favor of the visiting Stingrays. (7:49)
The Stingrays threw the first punch in the third period, as Wilkins tallied his second goal of the game with a wrister from the slot to put his team in front 4-3. (3:36)
The Gladiators were able to respond on the power play as Ryan Cranford tied the game after burying the biscuit amidst a mouth-bound scramble to knot things up 4-4. (7:31)
Despite a flurry of offensive chances and clutch saves from each team’s goaltender, the game would need three-on-three overtime to decide a winner.
In one of the most intense sequences of the season, the Gladiators found themselves in a duel for the ages as neither team could seem to net the game-winner through the first five minutes of overtime.
The game-winning tally finally came, but much to the chagrin of the Gladiators faithful, it would be from the stick of Stingrays forward Jack Adams, who earned the hat trick and the elusive victory. (5:48)
Barone finished the night with a season-best 46 saves off of 51 South Carolina shots while his net-minding counterpart Bjorklund tallied 28 saves off of 32 Atlanta shots.
The Glads will be back in action when they take on the Orlando Solar Bears Tuesday. Puck drop is set for 7:00PM.
Check out the highlights below.