08:00 ET

Atlanta Gladiators win a physical matchup against the Fort Wayne Komets

Forward Sanghoon Shin led the way with two goals, while Goalie David Tendeck stopped 43 shots.

The Atlanta Gladiators came into Sunday afternoons matchup with the Fort Wayne Komets desperately needing a victory. Atlanta has been reeling as of late, winning only two of their last ten contests coming into today’s game. Over the last month, Atlanta has freefallen in the South standings, going from first place down to the fifth spot. The Gladiators got off to a fast start, scoring on the game’s first power play when Defenseman Noah Laaouan rifled a shot that was tipped past Komet goalie Ryan Fanti by Forward Michael Pelech. This was Pelech’s 200th career goal in the ECHL. Pelech is only seven goals behind Derek Nesbitt, who played for the Gladiators and is currently the assistant coach. Five minutes later, the Komets got the equalizer on a goal by Forward Garrett Van Wyhe on a pass from behind the net by Forward Tristan Pelletier. Shortly after the Van Wyhe goal, Malcom Hayes from Atlanta and Tye Felhaber from Fort Wayne were penalized for fighting. Much to the home crowd’s delight, there was not much of a fight as Hayes quickly took Falhaber to the ice. Drake Rymsha of the Komets was also given an unsportsmanlike penalty on the play and continued with Felhaber to chirp back and forth with Hayes while they were in the penalty box. About a minute and a half after the penalties, Defenseman Billy Constantinou sniped one past Fanti on a beautiful pass by Reece Vitelli. Vitelli hit the spin cycle on the Fort Wayne defender before passing to Constantinou. The pass confused Fanti, who was too late to get back into position to stop the wrist shot from Constantinou. Atlanta Goalie David Tendeck made nine saves in the period to keep the Gladiators in the lead. The Komets had multiple chances to tie or take the lead on odd-man rushes and a breakaway that Tendeck was able to stop.

The second period was not as kind to the Gladiators as they would give up the equalizer only 35 seconds into the period on a Komets power play scored by Matt Alvaro, his ninth of the season. Less than four minutes later, the Komets would take the lead on a Shawn Boudrias blast. Boudrias now has 25 goals on the season and is the leading scorer for Fort Wayne. The Komets controlled most of the second period outshooting the Gladiators 21 to 11. The Gladiators could not get their offense going and relied on catching the Komets in a bad spot to initiate odd-man rushes or played dump and chase most of the period. With 3:53 left in the second period Defensemen Dylan Carabia took a pass up the left-hand side of the ice and backhanded a goal past Fanti on his stick side. Carabia had an awful angle to the net but still managed to pop his second goal of the year past the keeper to give Atlanta some hope and a 3-3 tie heading to the final frame.

Laaouan scored his 7th of the campaign on the power play to give the Gladiators the lead again less than four minutes into the 3rd period. Sanghoon Shin gave the Gladiators some breathing room with a little less than 15 minutes remaining when he scored his 16th of the season. There was some traffic in front of the net on the Shin goal, which Daniel Maggio of the Komets did not take kindly to. He dropped the gloves with Atlanta’s Michael Turner, and both were sent off for fighting.

This fight seemed to energize the Komets as they scored to make the score 5-4 with less than 12 minutes left in the game. Fort Wayne continued to pressure the Atlanta end of the ice and outshot the Gladiators for the third period in a row. A scary moment happened with 5:12 left in the game when Eric Neiley took some contact to the lower body and went down to the ice. He was unable to get back to the bench under his own power. The injury looked to be to his knee. He did not return to the game, and his status has not been updated. The Komets pulled their goalie to get the extra attacker, and Atlanta was able to ice the game on a Shin goal. The win keeps the Gladiators in the fifth position but only five points behind the Greenville Swamp Rabbits for the final playoff spot in the South. Atlanta will take on their in-state rivals, the Savannah Ghost Pirates, on March 2nd in Savannah.

Three Stars of the Game:

Phil Wilds

Atlanta Gladiators writer for Inside The Rink. Patiently waiting for the 3rd Atlanta NHL team! Follow me on Twitter @PWilds121 for awful takes that you will most certainly disagree with!

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