ECHL: Atlanta Gladiators Blank Florida Everblades, Playoffs still a Small Possibility. 

Credit: Taylor Trebotte

Assistant captain Cody Sylvester notched his first-ever hat trick, and rookie Goalie Tyler Harmon stopped all 37 shots he faced for a 4-0 win over the Florida Everblades Sunday afternoon. The Gladiators needed the win as they fell to the Everblades on Saturday night, putting them seven points behind Florida for the final spot in the South Division. The scoring started early at Gas South Arena, as Sylvester poked it past Everblades Goalie Cam Johnson on a pass from Mike Pelech and Tim Davison. The goal was Sylvester’s 34th of the season to lead all Gladiators in scoring. Pelech got his 52nd assist on the play and would end the game with 54 helpers, putting him 2nd in the league in assists. No other scoring occurred in the period, as the Gladiators would go on to outshoot the Everblades 12-10. 

The 2nd period would be more of the same, with neither team managing a goal until there was 1:04 left in the frame when Sanghoon Shin scored his 28th of the season on the power play. Pelech and Sylvester would assist on the goal as this line continues to put out points. The goal is a play that the Gladiators have used multiple times this season while on the power play. The point man will pass it down low to a player on the side of the net, who will feed an open Shin in the middle of the ice. Shots were even in the period ten aside for both teams. 

Florida would turn up the intensity in the 3rd period to try and catch Atlanta. Still, Harmon stood strong, stopping all 17 shots he faced in the period, including multiple odd-man rushes and shots with a lot of Everblades traffic in front of the net. The Gladiators would get the next goal with under 10 minutes remaining in the 3rd period when Sylvester wristed one from the point on a beautiful pass from Shin on Johnson’s stick side. Things would get a little physical after the goal when Logan Lambdin from Florida and Gabe Guertler got tangled up and threw a couple of shots at one another. Florida Defenseman Kyle Neuber then came to the fray and was penalized for roughing. Neuber had made his mark in Saturday’s game when he fought with Ian Mackey, dropping Mackey with a succession of hands. Neuber continued to jaw with Guertler while in the box. “He’s such a big player, “Guertler said after the game when I asked him about the team not going after Neuber. “If we had the Throwers (injured brothers Josh and Dalton) in the lineup, they would have gone.”

Credit: ECHL

 Down 3-0 late in the game, Florida pulled Johnson to get an extra attacker, but Sylvester was able to seal the hat trick on a long shot from his zone, which was the final goal to give the Glads a 4-0 lead. There was some pushing and shoving at the final whistle, and once again, Neuber found himself in the middle of it. Neuber would be assessed a 10-minute misconduct at 20:00 of the 3rd period. It will be interesting to see if a fine or suspension is associated with it, as he was letting the referees know about his displeasure. The Gladiators sit five points back of the Blades with only four remaining games. Two of those games will be against the Jacksonville Icemen, and then they finish the season with two against Florida. All these games will be road games for the Glads. On Saturday and Sunday, the Glads combined for over 15,000 fans at home. With this mark, The Gladiators averaged more fans this year than their AHL affiliate, the Tucson Roadrunners. Surprisingly, the Gladiators also outdrew their NHL parent club, the Arizona Coyotes. Florida will be at home Wednesday against the Icemen. They travel to South Carolina for two against the Stingrays before another home game against Jacksonville and then two against Atlanta to finish the season. 

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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