After splitting a series with the Trois-Rivières Lions, The Atlanta Gladiators were eager to gain some additional positive momentum. Atlanta signed forward Spencer Kennedy mid-week to potentially help bolster the team with his physical play and help energize the offense.
The Atlanta Gladiator’s starting lineup included Luke Prokop, Griffin Luce, Cody Sylvester, Jackson Pierson, and Ryan Cranford. Gustavs Grigals is back between the pipes as the Gladiators’ goalkeeper. Tyler Harmon remained on Injured Reserve. The Jacksonville Icemen would have Michael Houser minding the net for the Icemen.
In the first period between the Icemen and Gladiators, Craig Martin scores an impressive goal by backhanding the puck over the goalie’s glove and into the net, giving his team an early lead of 1-0 at 1:54. Despite Grigals making a save on Christopher Brown’s shot, the Gladiators struggled to keep the puck in their offensive zone against the Icemen’s persistent pressure. Navrin Mutter takes a shot, but it slides wide of the net.
Again, the Icemen continue to keep the pressure on the Gladiators’ end of the ice and strike the front of the net as Grigals makes the save for the Gladiators. As the Gladiators try to fend off the offensive attack being made by the Icemen, Grigals has to make one more save on a forward shot on the net.
Zach Yoder delivered a powerful hit and passed the puck to Carabia, who took a shot at the net. However, Houser made a great save, preventing a goal. Later, Jacob Panetta attempted to score against Grigals but was thwarted as Grigals lost his stick. Fortunately, Grigals was able to obtain a stick from another player as the Gladiators worked to clear the front of the net. Reece Vitelli gets a big hit on Brendan Harris, but no penalty was called. Reece Vitelli slides a shot at the Icemen’s net as the clock winds down. We finish out the opening frame sitting at 1-0 in favor of the Icemen.
Period 1 – Shots on Goal:
Atlanta – 3
Jacksonville – 13
Despite a weak start, the Gladiators knew the second period was their chance to turn it around, especially on the offensive side. The Icemen, however, gained control of the puck at the start and made a long stride towards the net, but their efforts were thwarted by Grigals. Regaining possession, the Gladiators pushed toward the other end, only for the Icemen to reclaim momentum once again. A one-timer shot on Grigals is knocked away, but another drive lands a score for the Icemen as Damien Giroux puts the Icemen up 2-0 (4:32). Moments later, Graves takes a shot on the net but is gloved done by Houser.
The Gladiators will head to the man advantage after the Icemen get called with a penalty on Lodermeier for holding. Just seconds into the play Sylvester strikes one onto the net after Ryan Cranford sets up the play with help from Luke Prokop, and the Gladiators get the PP goal taking the score to 2-1 (6:56).
Mitch Walinski takes a challenging shot on goal, but Icemen’s Houser skillfully clears it to safety. Zach Yoder gets the penalty for slashing and heads to the sin bin while the teams head to the PK. Jacob Graves sends an Icemen into the boards as the Gladiators start to make the game more aggressive in the gameplay. Brendan Hoffmann won the draw, and the Gladiators got possession. The Icemen get the puck back moments later, as Lodermeier delivers the puck forward on the net, but Grigals sends back the denial letter.
Reece Vitelli later intercepts the puck and tries to make the equalizer but shoots it just wide of Houser. Prokop returns the sentiment on the Icemen just minutes later but he too is stopped from making the goal. The Gladiators were later given a power play opportunity after Fiddler-Schultz was called for high sticking. The team was once again on the man advantage. The Icemen are undeterred, however, and successfully kill that chance for the Gladiators. Although Chris Brown made a shot attempt on Grigals, the puck was stopped by the netminder. Later, the Icemen made a push toward the Gladiators’ zone but missed the shot as the puck went wide of the net. Meanwhile, as the clock wound down, Pierson attempted to score once more but was unable to connect, just as Houser made the save.
Period 2 – Shots on Goal:
Atlanta – 13
Jacksonville – 9
Entering the final frame of the game, the Gladiators recognized their progress in the second period and the need to build on it. Their defensive strategy required shutting down the Icemen, while offensively, they aimed to maintain pressure on the Icemen’s goalie by shooting more. They do just that as the Gladiators saw Vitelli make a strong shot on net, with Houser closing the door on the attempt. Navrin Mutter lays a solid hit on the Icemen and sends Panetta into the board, getting the crowd in on the action as things heat up for the Gladiators. Jacksonville’s Martin strikes multiple times but is stopped by Grigals.
Regrettably, the Gladiators were forced to go to the penalty kill when Jackson Pierson was called for cross-checking. As Pierson sat in the sin bin, Hoffmann sprinted towards the net and attracted the Icemen’s attention, aiding in a zone clearance. Despite the Icemen’s man disadvantage, the Gladiators successfully killed the penalty, maintaining their momentum and continuing to try to keep the heat on. Prokop makes a shot from near the blue line, but there is no lane for him up front as Houser blocks it down not once but twice. With the puck jammed against the board, the Icemen eventually manage to pull it out. The Gladiators respond by sending it across the neutral zone, regaining possession, and finally moving the play back into their zone.
With less than half of the 3rd period remaining, the Gladiators continued to try to get the tying goal to keep them in the game. However, the Gladiators haven’t much offensive luck as the minutes slide by. A penalty is called on Jacob Graves for holding, and we head to the PK once more for the Gladiators. ore.
Grigals managed to make a save on a shot that went wide and bounced, causing him to dive on top of it. Fortunately, Pierson came to the rescue and prevented the Gladiators from falling behind any further as the penalty on the Gladiators ended. Moments later, it is the Icemen who head to the penalty box as Russell gets the call out for slashing. It is then that the Gladiators surge: Prokop makes a shot, Houser makes the stop, and Prokop shoots again with Houser killing the play on the net. Houser loses his helmet at the end of the drive being made by the Gladiators, and we had a momentary stoppage of play.
It would be the Jacksonville Icemen that would capitalize on a turnover, getting a shot on net by Garrett Van Wyhe bringing the score to 3-1 in their favor (17:36). With their net now empty, the Gladiators relentlessly attempt to score against the Icemen. During one play, the Gladiators take a shot, but Houser falls onto his back while the teams begin to engage in a scuffle behind the net. Vitelli and Russell receive roughing penalties for their involvement. The Icemen continue their control of the puck and would extend their lead to 4-1, as Damien Giroux successfully scores at 19:49.
The Gladiators fall to the Icemen with a final score of 4-1.
Period 3 – Shots on Goal:
Atlanta – 15
Jacksonville – 15
1. JAX – C. Martin
2. JAX – C. Grando
3. ATL – C. Sylvester
- We witnessed more shots on goal by the Gladiators in the later periods than in the opening frame, which appeared uneventful in comparison.
- Penalties were a lesser concern during the latter half of the game since most were incurred while the Gladiators were trailing significantly in goals. At that point, the focus rightfully shifted to a more physical play in an attempt to gain momentum and get the team back on track.
The Gladiators will be back for their Star Wars theme night on Saturday, January 20th as they face off that evening against the South Carolina Stingrays at Gas South Arena at 7:00 PM.