ECHL Game Recap: Atlanta Gladiators vs. Orlando Solar Bears | 03/23/2024

Photo Credit: Karen Zehner for Inside the Rink

After the loss the night before against the Trois-Rivières Lions, the Gladiators looked once more to be the spoilers as Orlando remained in playoff contention. The starting lineup for the Atlanta Gladiators included Robbie Calisti (D), Zach Yoder (D), Carson Gicewicz (F), Parker AuCoin (F), and Nolan Burke. Tyler Harmon (G) and Mitch Fossier (F) are still listed on Injured Reserve for Atlanta.

Between the Pipes:

ATLANTA – Josh Boyko

ORLANDO – Evan Fitzpatrick

Period 1

Josh Boyko deflected a shot on the net made by Bent, but the play was offsides, and the play was stopped. Mitch Walinski is in the box for slashing, and the Gladiators head to the penalty kill. Boyko cleared the puck again once the play resumed as the Gladiators attempted to force it down the ice. The Solar Bears made a shot attempt, but it was driven high and out of play.

In their zone, the Gladiators get the clear when Robbie Calisti drives it out as the Gladiators return to full strength. The Solar Bears fight to keep the puck in Atlanta’s zone, but the Gladiators defend well and clear once more. Later, Tyler Bird crashed hard into Boyko on the rush and we had a stoppage of play.

The Gladiators were at risk of conceding a goal when the Solar Bears gained possession, but the Gladiators’ defense held strong as Jesse Jacques made a play toward the goal. Boyko intervened by swiftly moving the puck out of harm’s way with his stick. The Gladiators have several shots on the net as Jackson Pierson got a pass over to Carson Denomie, but the latter was unable to connect with the net. Denomie gets a follow-up chance, but he is unable to get a clear shot on net. The Gladiators then go on the powerplay as the Solar Bears get called for hooking and Bird heads to the sin bin to serve the time.

Calisti attempted a shot on goal but missed, and shortly after, Jake Willets took a shot that was narrowly tipped away. Micah Miller had his chance at the net moments later, only to have it saved by Evan Fitzpatrick. Datema tried to gain access to the back of the net, but Brayden Low thwarted the opportunity. Gicewicz’s shot is deflected and the puck heads towards the net, but Fitzpatrick blocked it. Zach Yoder made a valiant effort on goal yet faced another prevented attempt by Orlando’s goaltender. The Gladiators remain determined to score, consistently creating chances in front of the net.

Later, Boyko deflects a shot from Jérémie Biakabutuka of the Solar Bears, and the Gladiators clear the puck down to the other end. Brendan Hoffman of Atlanta fires a shot at Fitzpatrick that nearly scores, just striking the crossbar before going out of play.

Shortly after, Michael Marchesan and Kelly Bent engage in a rather heated discussion near the Gladiators bench. Following the restart of play, the Solar Bears took a shot on goal, but Boyko made the save. Micha Miller narrowly misses the net with just a minute left in the period. In the last 40 seconds, Brenden Datema assists Willets, but the shot is blocked. The game clock reaches zero with neither side having scored a goal.

Period 1 – Shots on Goal:

Atlanta – 9

Orlando – 8

Period 2

At the outset, Nolan Burke attempted a shot on Fitzpatrick, who managed to deflect it with his glove, making a commendable save. Subsequently, following a faceoff, another shot was taken by the Gladiators. A potential altercation between Willets and Frye seemed imminent, yet neither player engaged further. Both athletes were subsequently penalized and sent to the penalty box for roughing.

Jackson Pierson capitalizes on an opening with a powerful slap shot, resulting in a goal for the Gladiators, propelling Atlanta to a 1-0 lead at 1:32. The assists for this play are credited to Micah Miller and Brenden Datema. Although Calisti secures a breakaway opportunity, he fails to convert the chance into a goal. Fitzpatrick made the crucial saves for Orlando and prevented Calisti’s shot and any potential rebound opportunities.

Calisti, undeterred, later beats Ben Carroll to the puck and attempts to fire a shot on the net but is again denied. Yoder draws a penalty for cross-checking, and the Gladiators head to the PK. Moments later, Willets and Frye are released from the penalty box from the previous penalty. We then have another penalty, this one delayed as the Gladiators are left with an open net, but the Gladiators cleared the puck from the zone and out of danger. Datema later has a shot on Fitzpatrick but is denied, and then we touch up as Marc-Andre Gaudet is called for interference and heads to the penalty box for tripping.

In Orlando’s zone, Hoffmann seeks out a teammate and locates Gicewicz, who then was forced under pressure by the Solar Bears. Miller gets the puck and attempts a shot on goal, but Fitzpatrick deflects it with his stick. There is a turnover near the net, yet the Gladiators persist in trying to regain possession. Continuing to force the play in Atlanta’s zone, Orlando’s Gaudet takes a shot on Boyko, only to be blocked and defended.

We have a skirmish by the net after the play after Yoder, and Marchesan has words with the Solar Bears for getting too up close and personal with Boyko on the last play. Two players head to the sin bin, one on each side, as Tanner Schachle and Yoder serve the time for roughing. The Solar Bears tried to shoot at Boyko but Carroll’s shot was popped out of play, partly due to the deflection by Boyko. Then Parker AuCoin forced it to the other end of the ice and deftly made a shot on the net but was denied by Fitzpatrick. Then we have a near pop-in goal as the shot by Datema just went wide of the net.

Atlanta maintains pressure on Orlando, leading to a heated exchange between players from both teams near center ice. During a breakaway by Orlando’s Spencer Kersten, Boyko makes a crucial save amidst the action, and the Gladiators work to regain possession of the puck.

AuCoin attempted a shot on Fitzpatrick but was blocked. Datema absorbed a check by a Solar Bear against the boards but remained standing and play continued. Gaudet gets the puck and tried a shot on Atlanta’s goal, but it is blocked by another Solar Bear player, and then the follow up shot is knocked off by Boyko.

Ryan Cranford was sent to the penalty box for tripping after bringing a Solar Bear down to the ice. Jacques’ attempt to score is thwarted by Boyko. The Gladiators, on the odd-man rush, are denied a scoring chance after they turnover the puck. The Bears would get their chance, but Jay Powell defended and blocked the shot by Jacques. In Orlando’s zone, AuCoin and Burke each attempted a shot on net, with AuCoin falling to the ice as he stretched out to make the play, only to have the effort be foiled by Fitzpatrick. We are now back to even strength as the Solar Bears gain possession, and Alex Frye fires on Boyko, who snatches it from mid-air to make the denial.

After the draw, Burke wins the faceoff and takes a shot that misses. AuCoin attempts a strike, but Fitzpatrick saves the opportunity. In Atlanta’s end, Kersten is blocked by Jay Powell, who defends for the Gladiators. Pierson passes the puck to Miller on the right wing, but Orlando blocks the shot. Willets sends Bent to the ice after being checked along the boards; The Gladiators go to the PK after Willets is called for boarding. Under a minute left of the frame, Boyko saved the scoring chances by Orlando with a chest grab of the puck after Darek Angeli made the shot. Later, another shot attempt by Jacques was also denied by Boyko, who closed the door on Orlando. With seconds left, we have several shots by Orlando, but Atlanta defends well. Boyko blocked a shot by Orlando with Yoder defending up front, as he helped to prevent the Solar Bears from finding another scoring opportunity.

We closed out the second period with Atlanta holding the lead at 1-0.

Period 2 – Shots on Goal:

Atlanta – 22

Orlando – 14

Period 3

The Gladiators maintained a strong defense at the net at the start of the third as the Solar Bears looked for an opening. Nolan Burke stopped Gaudet from making a shot. Following a takedown of Datema, the Gladiators went on the power play due to roughing being called on Schachle. The Solar Bears got the chance after a pass in front of the net was stolen. Frye, on the backhand from Gaudet, shot the puck on Boyko who dropped down to stop the puck, and the scoring attempt by Orlando was denied.

Boyko cleared the puck after Orlando’s Biakabutuka attempted to even things up with a strong on-net shot. Atlanta then gets a breakaway chance when Ryan Cranford slides it towards Fitzpatrick, but Gaudet snagged it back. Then, on the other end of the ice, Boyko made the save after Luke Boka’s shot went just wide of the net.

Later, Miller’s laser shot on the net just missed the net and was pushed out of the zone by Orlando. Burke had his chance, but Fitzpatrick bats it out of the zone. Aaron Luchuk later has his opportunity but the shot is bounced off the blocker of Boyko. On the follow-up, Boyko attempted to block the puck but couldn’t prevent Carroll from scoring amidst extremely heavy traffic in front of the goal. The referees review the play to determine if there was any interference on Boyko. However, the goal stands, and we remain tied up at 1-1 (10:14).

Minutes later, from the right side of Boyko, a shot made by Luchuk finds the net after the Gladiators’ Datema tried desperately to defend the puck but was unable to prevent the score. We are now 2-1, Orlando (12:12).

Yoder took a powerful shot at the net but unfortunately missed as the Solar Bears fought to clear the puck. The Gladiators attempted to block a shot from Angeli, but Boyko successfully managed to handle it and kept the puck from the net. Calisti took a shot from center but is deflected by Fitzpatrick. The redirect by Hoffmann just missed Fitzpatrick as Willets fired on the net but again was stopped by the netminder. Boyko is pulled from the net for the extra attacker as the Gladiators fight on. The Solar Bears’ Gaudet made a shot, but he iced the puck. A time-out was then called by Atlanta. After play resumed, the Gladiators tried to dig into the net but AuCoin’s shot just slid off the pad of Fitzpatrick.

We finished out the game with Atlanta falling to Orlando, 2-1 in regulation.

Period 3 – Shots on Goal:

Atlanta – 8

Orlando – 8

Three Stars of the Game

1. ORL – E. Fitzpatrick

2. ORL – A. Luchuk

3. ATL – J. Boyko

Note: Brendan Datema earned his first professional point in tonight’s game with his assist on Pierson’s 2nd-period goal.

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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