The Atlanta Gladiators welcomed several local schools for their first of two School Days, and Gas South Arena was abuzz with young fans rooting for their favorite team. The Atlanta Gladiators were on the verge of matching the ECHL’s record for the most consecutive wins at the beginning of a season. But to accomplish this feat, they must first face off against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, who seemed determined to be the ones to end it. The Gladiators have maintained their physicality and aggressiveness throughout their recent matchups, and we anticipated that this trend would persist in today’s game. The Gladiators were without forward Cody Sylvester again this morning. Sylvester had been a last-minute scratch on Saturday night. As a result, Mitch Walinski would again be on the first line alongside Alex Whelan and Carson Gicewicz. Michael Marchesan was also scratched from today’s lineup for the Gladiators.
It would be just under a minute into the opening period when we saw just how quickly the Gladiators would go on the offensive. It was Jacob Graves who sliced through the goal line, slipping the puck past the Swamp Rabbits’ goalie, Ryan Bednard. The Gladiators took the lead, 1-0 (0:38). Ryan Carabia and Reece Vitelli each got points on the assist.
Later in the period, the Gladiators would have to send Mitch Fossier to the penalty box. The Gladiators have been tough to beat on the PK, having netted several shorthanded goals. Tyler Harmon, in the net for his third game in a row after Gustavs Grigals was called up last week to the Milwaukee Admirals, showed no signs of wearing down. However, the Swamp Rabbits forward Josh McKechney finds his way past Harmon’s defenses and edges one past Tyler Harmon, sending the puck to the back of the Gladiators’ net (13:04). The score is now tied 1-1 as we finished out the second period.
The momentum of the game had remained in favor of the Swamp Rabbits. The Gladiators continued to try and dial in their offense but were consistently kept on the defensive, trying to get the puck back into their zone to attempt to tie things up. The Atlanta Gladiators struggled to maintain control of the puck for much of the second frame, unable to prevent their opponent’s attacks and secure their own zone. A defining moment occurred when Carter Souch scored a goal (9:14), blasting past Tyler Harmon and placing the Swamp Rabbits ahead, 2-1. Late in the second period, the Gladiators rallied, but as we ended the second the score was unchanged.
The game headed into the third and final period, and the Gladiators again went on the offensive. They fought to get a puck past the Swamp Rabbits goalie, Bednard, with a stellar shot by Aidan De La Gorgendiere that just missed crossing the goal line by inches before being deftly cleared away by the netminder. The Swamp Rabbits continued to put pressure on the Gladiators. Jackson Pierson would force the Swamp Rabbits to go on the PP, drawing a penalty on J. D. Greenway. The Swamp Rabbits would end the opportunity for the Gladiators with a successful kill and would not allow any shots on net. The Gladiators now have just minutes to go in regulation. They go on all cylinders, pushing hard to swing things in their direction. The Gladiators pulled Harmon at 18:20, fans already rising from their seats. Atlanta will get in multiple shot attempts in the final minutes but could not make it past the glove of Bednard. The Gladiators winning streak ends as they fall to the Swamp Rabbits, 2 to 1.
The Atlanta Gladiators will head back on the road this coming weekend, playing another set of back-to-back games against the Florida Everblades. The first matchup will happen Friday, November 17th, at Hertz Arena, with a puck drop at 7:30 PM.