ECHL: Atlanta Gladiators Mid-Season Report Card

Photo: Taylor Trebotte for Inside the Rink

Current Record:

11-20-1-1 (25 Points) – After 33 GP

Win Percentage: 36.40%

Power Play Percentage: 18.8%

Penalty Kill Percentage: 77.9%

Class President: Forward Mitch Fossier #18 

After playing 26 games and scoring 10 goals with 23 assists, Forward Mitch Fossier has earned the title. Despite being on injury reserve for a few weeks, he now holds a total of 33 points while also holding a +5 plus/minus rating. He currently averages 1.27 points per game. It came as no surprise that the ECHL and Atlanta Gladiators recently announced that Fossier will be representing the club at the 2024 ECHL All-Star Classic. The event is scheduled to take place on Monday, January 15, 2024, at Enmarket Arena in Savannah, GA.

Photo: Taylor Trebotte for Inside the Rink

Class MVP/Forwards

Micah Miller #57 earns the accolade after continually stepping up for the team. After 31 games, he has earned 21 points overall. He is tied with Mitch Fossier in goals with 10 and has 11 assists to his credit. Miller also has only had six minutes in penalties in that time. The pairing of Miller, Vitelli, and Fossier made quite an impact for the Gladiators earlier in the season, but Miller seems to mesh well with his teammates and has been an asset to whatever line he is set with.

Photo: Taylor Trebotte for Inside the Rink

Class MVP/Defenders

Luke Prokop #6 gets the shout-out here for earning 11 points after 23 games, with a +3 plus/minus rating. As with Micha Miller, he has spent a minimal amount of time in the sin bin, with only six minutes to date. He currently has three goals and eight assists.

Photo: Taylor Trebotte for Inside the Rink

Honorable Mentions

Reece Vitelli #20 gets my vote here for consistently averaging a point per game for the Gladiators. With 23 games played, he has had six goals – one on a powerplay – with a total of 12 assists (18 pts). Since his return to the lineup from being on loan, he has continued to make an impact. especially when paired with Mitch Fossier and Micha Miller.

Navrin Mutter #48 was reassigned from the Milwaukee Admirals to the Atlanta Gladiators on December 14th and has already become an asset to the team. After only 11 games with Atlanta, he has tallied four goals, with one assist, and is currently averaging a point per game.

Photo: Taylor Trebotte for Inside the Rink

At Risk: The Offense

During a recent three-game series with the Savannah Ghost Pirates, the Gladiators were outshot by an astonishing 122 shots to 74 across those three games. Simply stated, that is just not good enough for a team that showed playoff promise at the start of the season. In the recent win with Jacksonville, there was a positive in that they consistently outshot the Icemen with 11 shots on goal each period.

To turn things around, the team must find and maintain an aggressive approach, particularly while on the PP, where their success rate is sitting at 18.8%. They should focus on their strengths, including some solid forward lines. Meanwhile, keeping themselves in the clear as much as possible with penalties will be critical moving forward.

Overall Grade: D 

As much as I would love to grade higher here, the Atlanta Gladiators sit at the bottom of the South Division and are last in the ECHL Eastern Conference. With 33 games they currently hold this spot with 25 points. The Gladiators still have a lot of potential, but their success hinges on their ability to keep their players out of the penalty box and get their offense moving in the right direction.

To improve their game offensively, the team should continue to maximize their scoring chances. The team has struggled to convert on their power play opportunities and as mentioned earlier, the shots on goal have continued to be of concern. Staying aggressive here is going to be critical. Also, winning faceoffs more consistently can add to those scoring chances for a team that needs every opportunity in their favor that they can muster.

Photo: Taylor Trebotte for Inside for Rink

In terms of defensive strategy, remaining physical and assertive is equally crucial, but the team needs to be deliberate in doing so. The Gladiators have struggled with penalties this season, having had to kill off penalties a total of 122 times, which has added undue pressure limited their ability to execute scoring plays, and has put a lot of pressure on their goaltenders. It’s imperative to keep the play in the Gladiators’ zone and provide the forward lines with better opportunities to execute those scoring plays. Another significant change would be clearing rebounds away from the goal and, ideally, before rival forwards can swipe them up. This is exceptionally important in the opening period which has seen the Gladiators behind a goal within the first minute more than a few times.

Photo: Taylor Trebotte for Inside the Rink

To solidify their position, the Gladiators will need to continue the strong goaltending from Gustavs Grigals, Tyler Harmon (IR), and Brad Barone. While the Gladiators’ defenders can certainly reduce the number of challenging saves they need to make, they are just as critical in keeping the opposing team at bay.

As it stands, the Gladiators are 10 points behind from being in playoff contention as they continue into the second half of the season.  They now face an uphill battle, to be certain, but not an impossible one.

Karen Zehner

Credentialed Beat Writer covering the ECHL Atlanta Gladiators. Diving into the world of slap shots, penalty kills, and the game we love. [@RunwithK] on socials

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