ECHL Game Recap: Atlanta Gladiators vs. Florida Everblades | 01/03/2024

Photo Credit: Taylor Trebotte for Inside the Rink

The Atlanta Gladiators last met up with the Florida Everblades in mid-November for a back-to-back series on the road. The Gladiators went on to lose both games in that series against the Everblades, which, along with the loss to the Greenville Swamp Rabbits just days before, marked the beginning of the losing streak that the Gladiators have been trying to overcome since that time.

The Gladiators had Gustavs Grigals back in the net after being returned to the team from Milwaukee. Jacob Graves is also back in the lineup and will play on the second D-pairing with Griffin Luce. Meanwhile, Evan Cormier will be the starting goaltender for Florida. Michael Marcheson and Tyler Harmon both remained on Injured Reserve.

Period 1

Five minutes into the period, Everblades’ Bobo Carpenter went up against Gladiators’ defenseman Zach Yoder and made the shot over the shoulder of Gustvas Grigals (5:17). The Everblades lead 1-0. However, Atlanta quickly answered the goal, with Jackson Pierson scoring to tie up the game 1-1. Jacob Graves was also credited with the assist (6:02).

Mitch Walinski makes the shot on Cromier, but it was gloved off by the goaltender – hitting wide of the net. A penalty by Florida’s Kyle Neuber for holding puts the Gladiators on the PP. Miller shoots on goal, but it is bounced off the blocker of Cromier.

On the rush goes FL but slams in the net, Grigals is slammed down to the ice, but Grigals gets up a few moments later. Cody Sylvester goes to the box for interference. We are now on the four-on-four. Both penalties are killed off successfully. We are back to full strength. The Gladiators get a second penalty moments later when Dylan Carabia gets called for holding. Seconds later, Florida joins them when Josling gets called for hooking, sending us to the four-on-four once more. Demin got a front-on-net shot, but it was denied by Grigals. Fossier attempts to get the same on the other end of the ice, but he, too, is shut down.

Period 1 – Shots on goal:

Atlanta – 9

Florida – 10

Period 2

After the faceoff, both teams were on the offensive, and play was fast and furious from the star of the frame. Minutes into the period, Fossier was knocked down as he tried to make a move on Florida and slid into the net, falling under Patrick Holway, with both ultimately colliding with Evan Cormier. Later on, Florida stripped a backhanded pass from Fossier and sent it back into Atlanta’s zone. Sean Josling then took a shot on the net, but he hit it too high and missed wide of netminder Gustavs Grigals.

The Gladiators maintained an aggressive stance, pressing hard against Florida’s net. However, Reece Vitelli collides with the goalpost, causing the net to come off its mooring. Navrin Mutter took control of the puck and attempted to score but was unable to connect. Brendan Hoffman and Navrin Mutter tried once more to shoot the puck toward Florida’s net, but Cormier managed to prevent the goal.

Amid heavy traffic and well-defended situations, the Gladiators continue to stay on the puck and keep out of their zone. However, Sylvester just misses a shot on a nearly empty net, sending the crowd into a roar. Florida soon takes advantage of the opportunity and scores off the rebound from the draw, with Joe Pendenza netting the goal for the Everblades. The score is now 2-1 in favor of Florida (7:35).

After the goal, we have a stoppage of play after a chip in the ice near the net of Florida which is attended to by officials. Resuming the play, immediately the Gladiators score off the draw as Mitch Walinski finds the back of the basket, assisted by Jackson Pierson (8:47). A slashing call sends Mitch Walinski to the sin bin, and the Gladiators head to the PK. The Gladiators continuously striking on the puck, driving it into the zone of Florida. Back to full strength. Brendan Hoffman continues to help the Gladiators drive onto the Florida zone. The Gladiators get several shots on goal by Vitelli and Miller before getting shot out of play. In quick succession, Fossier gets a shot, and Prokop gets a follow-up shot, but all get knocked down.

Following the goal, officials attend to a chip in the ice near Florida’s net, leading to a stoppage in play. Once play resumes, the Gladiators immediately score off the draw, with Mitch Walinski finding the back of the net, assisted by Jackson Pierson (8:47). Unfortunately, Mitch Walinski gets a slashing call and is sent to the sin bin, causing the Gladiators to play shorthanded. Despite this, the Gladiators continue to dominate and relentlessly drive the puck towards Florida’s zone. As the Gladiators return to full strength, Brendan Hoffman steps up to help drive the puck forward. Vitelli and Miller take several shots on goal before the puck is shot out of play. Fossier and Prokop follow it up with their shots, but both attempts are unfortunately blocked.

Applying pressure, the Florida Everblades make some solid shots on Grigals of their own, but all stopped by the goaltender, Grigals. The Gladiators lose the draw, and the Everblades stride to the net of Griglas by Carpenter’s shot goes over the glass. Prokop gets a shot on Cormier, but it bounces off Cormier. The Gladiators strike on the net again, but the slapshot by Micha Miller was denied by Cormier. We finish out a high-energy period by both teams, 2-2.

During the high-energy period, Florida Everblades applied pressure by taking some solid shots on Grigals but were unable to score. The Gladiators were unable to win the draw, and the Everblades took advantage, making their way to the net only to have Carpenter’s shot go over the glass. Prokop also had a subsequent shot on Cormier, but it was denied. The Gladiators continued their push towards the Everblades net, only to have Micha Miller’s slapshot also denied by Cormier. As the period ended, both teams remained tied at 2-2.

Period 2 – Shots on goal:

Atlanta – 13

Florida – 12

Period 3

The Everblades started the third period strong, but Grigals continued to make a crucial save. However, Sean Josling scored for Florida with a rebound shot through the legs of Grigals, making it 3-2 (1:03), Florida’s advantage. The Gladiators didn’t waste time and answered back in just 15 seconds, with Vitelli scoring from the left circle, tying the game 3-3 (1:18). Navrin Mutter was credited with the assist.

In an ongoing intense match between the Gladiators and Everblades, Carabia takes a shot that gets deflected off a skate and blocked by Florida. A follow-up shot from Florida is skillfully stopped by Griglas, prompting the play to move toward the Everblades’ zone. Griffin Luce sends the puck down to the Gladiators’ end, but it results in an icing call. The Gladiators continued to defend their zone until they could send the puck back to Florida’s zone.

Florida took an ongoing offensive stance, but Andrew Fyten’s attempt at the goal was stopped by Grigals. Fossier tried to pass to Miller for the equalizer goal but was blocked by Cormier. The Everblades were then called for icing after the puck was played from the far wall.

Moments later, the Everblades regain possession of a missed pass and drive to Atlanta’s zone. Pendenza’s shot on the net has force behind it but is shot wide. Seconds later, another shot on the net is gloved down by Grigals. Powell gets a great check on Florida, gaining some momentum for Atlanta. After a missed pass, the Everblades regained possession of the puck and drove to Atlanta’s zone. Although Pendenza’s shot had power, it missed the net. In another attempt seconds later, Grigals managed to glove down the shot. Jay Powell’s check on Florida provided Atlanta with some momentum.

It is here that things begin south for Atlanta. After the high energy of both teams in the second period, late in the third, it seemed that Atlanta was struggling to maintain that pace. Taking advantage was Bobo Carpenter, who slid the puck past the gloves of Grigals, bringing the Everblades ahead 4-2 (13:10). The Gladiators pulled Grigals near the end of the period, and though the Gladiators defended several shots on the empty net by the Everblades, at 19:22 Carpenter would slide the puck in and get the empty netter/hat trick combination, assisted by Joe Pendenza. The Gladiators fall to the Everblades, 5-3.

Period 3 – Shots on Goal:

Atlanta – 11

Florida – 22

Three Stars of the Game:
1. FLA – B. Carpenter
2. ATL – J. Pierson
3. ATL – R. Vitelli

Takeaways

  • The first two periods marked a large improvement for the Gladiators in terms of shots on net. It was not until the third that the Gladiators started to fall flat and lost that momentum. They were outshot in the third by a ratio of 2:1. Overall, they had 33 shots to Florida’s 44.
  • Another improvement was a decrease in overall penalty minutes, having the Gladiators only spend a total of 6 minutes in the penalty box. The Gladiators had no penalties in the third frame at all.
  • Brendan Hoffmann seemed to fit well into the lineup for the Gladiators and may have injected some fire into the team. It will be interesting to see if Hoffmann continues to develop – especially if kept on the line with Navrin Mutter and Reece Vitelli.

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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