ECHL Game Recap: Atlanta Gladiators vs. South Carolina Stingrays | 02/13/2024

Photo: Taylor Trebotte | Inside The Rink

The Atlanta Gladiators returned to home ice on the eve of Valentine’s Day as the team celebrated Heart Health Night, wearing a specialty jersey to mark the occasion.

Tuesday night’s game saw the lineup of Robert Calisti, Dylan Carabia, Ryan Cranford, Navrin Mutter, and Nolan Burke for the Atlanta Gladiators. Josh Boyko would man the Gladiators’ net. South Carolina’s Mitchell Gibson was between the pipes for the Stingrays.

Griffin Luce and Jackson Pierson both get the nod as Alternate Captains for the team. Tyler Harmon and Mitch Fossier both remain on IR. Brad Barone and Mitch Walinski both were listed on reserve. Also, earlier that day the Gladiators welcomed Alex Cohen to their roster.

Period 1

Tyson Empey makes the shot up front, but Boyko makes the stop. Micah Miller speeds to the net but is stopped by Gibson. Griffin Luce makes a shot but is blocked down by Magera. Leivermann makes a shot on the net, but Boyko uses his body to push it down. The Gladiators work to find their stride, and they do just as Jackson Pierson has the puck deflect off the skate of a Stingray, and the Gladiators light the lamp. Reece Vitelli will be credited with the assist as the Gladiators score first, 1-0 (4:43).

The Gladiators receive a penalty, leading to a power play after Jackson Pierson is called for a two-minute minor due to tripping. Brendan Hoffmann attempts a short-handed goal on Gibson but is blocked by the goalkeeper. South Carolina’s Leibold tries a shot on goal but sends it out of play. The Gladiators then successfully defend against the remaining time on the penalty and return to full strength. Leppard maintains pressure for the Stingrays, but Boyko denies his attempts.

The Stingrays focus on the front of the net, while the Gladiators work on clearing their zone and making line changes. Nolan Burke takes a hard fall on his knee and leaves the ice for assessment by the trainers. Kennedy steps in to defend his teammate against Ian Mackey in a brief scuffle. Kennedy receives a 2-minute penalty for roughing, while Mackey gets a double minor penalty, leading to Jonny Evans serving some time in the penalty box with him. Miller scores a Powerplay goal off Prokop’s rebounded shot, putting the Gladiators ahead 2-0 at 14:19. Luke Prokop and Jackson Pierson are credited with the assist.

Spencer Kennedy drops the glove on Mackey, puts him on his heels with a solid shot, and then takes Mackey down to the ice. The crowd is on their feet as Kennedy riles them up on his way off the ice. Kennedy and Mackey each get the penalty for Game Misconduct for fighting.

The Gladiators came back to play fired up as Calisti knocked a Stingray up against the boards. The Stingrays go up the ice, and Empey strikes on the net, but Boyko pads it with his legs and shuts the door. The Gladiators’ Zach Yoder feeds Michael Marchesan the puck, and he finds the mesh. The Gladiators are now up 3-0 (18:24). Prokop gets the credit on the assist as well. Boyko tried to stop the shot on the net, but the Stingrays scored. Jonny Evans of the Stingrays gets the credit for putting South Carolina on the board 3-1 (19:46).

Period 1 – Shots on Goal:

Atlanta – 8

South Carolina – 13

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Period 2

The Stingrays do not waste time trying to get things back on their side, and Kevin O’Neil gets the goal early in the frame, putting the score 3-2 (00:20). Reece Vitelli gets the offside call. The Stingrays get some quality time in the sin bin after Garet Hunt gets called for goaltender interference. Miller, after play resumed, makes a shot on net but it is tipped wide. Not long after, the Gladiators put the tally on the board after Calisti gets the shot to Buke who shoots, but it is Brendan Hoffman that finds the net with the rebound shot, and the Gladiators increased their lead to two, 4-2 (3:15). Later, Jackson Leppard takes the bench in the sin bin for Goaltender interference, and the Gladiators go on the PP once more. Gibson makes the glove save on a shot by Pierson as the Gladiators keep pushing that end of the ice. The Stingrays killed the Gladitors’ man advantage as they headed back to full strength.

The Gladiators show their resilience as Marchesan scores his second goal of the night, making it 5-2 (7:05) with an assist from Reece Vitelli. However, the Stingrays counter and score, with Benton Maass finding the net through Boyko’s legs. The score is now 5-3, remaining in favor of the Gladiators (7:51).

After a 4-on-2 situation, the Gladiators execute a defensive play to clear the zone. Boyko moves the puck from behind the net, but the Stingrays attempt to regain possession. The Gladiators then go on the penalty kill as Jay Powell is penalized for tripping. Austin Magera gets the one-timer and gets the goal. The game is now at 5-4, with the Gladiators holding on to the lead (13:31).

Boyko makes the diving save after the backhanded shot by Maass who strikes the net after the Stingrays held the Gladiators to their end of the ice. Miler’s slapshot is padded wide by Gibson. The Stingrays strive to the net. Robert Calisti gets the clipping call on Kameron Kielly, sending the team on the PK, but the Gladiators squashed any attempts by the Stingrays to make any headway on that advantage.

Period 2 – Shots on Goal:

Atlanta – 10

South Carolina – 9

Period 3

Jackson Pierson gets the breakaway chance early and makes his shot on the net, but Gibson stops the drive. Atlanta will be on the PK as Reece Vitelli is called for tripping. Brendan Hoffmann gives the Stingrays continued to dish up the anxiety level for the Stingrays through the remaining time on the PK. The Gladiators headed back to full strength as the Stingrays pushed to even things up as the Gladiators defended well.

Reece Vitelli seizes the opportunity but narrowly misses to the right side of the net. The Gladiators maintain possession in the zone as the Rays struggle to clear the puck. Boyko delivers an impressive save following Leibold’s shot on goal, prompting the Gladiators to resort to icing.

Both teams were determined not to concede any advantage as the remainder of the period drew to a close. In a final attempt to tie up the game, the Stingrays substituted goaltender Mitchell Gibson with an extra attacker in the last minute of the game. However, Atlanta managed to hold on and secure the victory with a final score of 5-4.

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Period 3 – Shots on Goal:

Atlanta – 5

South Carolina – 9

Three Stars:

1. ATL – M. Marchesan

2. ATL – J. Boyko

3. ATL – R. Vitelli

Takeaways:

  • Michael Marchesan (ATL) scored 2 goals for the Gladiators, including the game-winning goal, earning the #1 star of the game for his efforts.
  • Brendan Hoffmann showcased versatility by excelling in both offense and defense for the Gladiators and was instrumental in unsettling the Stingrays throughout the game.
  • The Gladiators refused to be hindered by setbacks they met during the game. Their resilience was on full display as they secured a well-earned victory against a formidable opponent.

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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