ECHL Weekend Recap: Atlanta Gladiators | 02/02/2024 -02/04/2024

Phot Credit: Andrew Fielder for Inside the Rink

Coming off a solid showing against the Orlando Solar Bears, the Atlanta Gladiators were hoping to continue their recent upswing in their first game of the weekend as they went up against Jacksonville before returning to Atlanta to face two back-to-back home ice appearances against the South Carolina Stingrays.

Friday, February 2, 2024 vs. Jacksonville Icemen

The Atlanta Gladiators’ starting lineup against the Icemen featured Jacob Graves, Nolan Burke, Zach Yoder, Michael Marchesan, Luke Prokop, and Griffin Luce. Brad Barone returned to the net as the goalkeeper for Atlanta. Tyler Harmon and Mitch Fossier both remained on Injured Reserve, with the former being out for the remainder of the season. Micha Miller and Reece Vitelli were absent after being called up to Tucson. Joe Murdaca was in the net for the Icemen.

Photo: Andrew Fielder for Inside the Rink

Period 1

Unfortunately for the Atlanta Gladiators, the Jacksonville Icemen came out decidedly strong in the first period of the game. Damien Giroux scored the team’s first goal just a minute and 39 seconds into the first period off the pass by Craig Martin. Brad Barone would make the save later, with his glove keeping the shot by the Icemen from making it to the net.

Shortly after, the Icemen would get the man advantage once Nolan Burke gets sent to the sin bin for slashing. Christopher Brown would take that chance and run with it and tallies another goal for the Icemen at 4:28, bringing the score to 2-0 on the Icemen powerplay opportunity.

Logan Cockerill would then score his fourth goal of the season, cementing a 3-0 lead for the Icemen (8:45) as we finished out the first period.

Jackson Pierson attempted to make some offensive moves but was well-defended by Garrett Van Wyhe. Spencer Kennedy and Riley Fiddler-Schultz were each called for slashing, and we headed to the 4-on-4. However, the penalties netted no goal for either team.

Period 1 – Shots on Goal:

Atlanta – 1

Jacksonville – 15

Period 2

Atlanta changed the goalie position at the start of the second period, replacing Brad Barone with Joshua Boyko. This followed a disappointing first period in which three goals were conceded out of 15 shots.

The Atlanta Gladiators had staved off the Icemen for most of the frame, but Derek Lodermeier would score his seventh goal of the season, bringing the score to 4-0 (17:19). Later in the period, Jacksonville extended their lead to 5-0 with a goal from Garrett Van Wyhe.

The Gladiators, in two frames so far, had made a total of five shots on goal to Jacksonville’s 27.

Period 2 – Shots on Goal:

Atlanta – 4

Jacksonville – 12

Period 3

During the third period, Atlanta would get on the scoreboard, ending Jacksonville’s shutout bid with a score of 5-1 at the 3:10 mark. The play was set up by the Gladiators’ beautiful passing in the offensive zone, allowing Robert Calisti to wire home his eighth goal of the year. Nolan Burke and Jay Powell would be credited with the assist. Just over a minute later, the Gladiators would score again as Jay Powell made the goal, scoring his second of the season with his strong shot on net. Assists for the goal were credited to Brendan Hoffmann and Zach Yoder. The Gladiators now trail 5-2 (4:32).

Jacksonville would score another goal in the third period, this time by Brendan Harris, to bring the score to 6-2 at the midway point (11:17). In the final minute of the game, the Icemen capitalized on a power play opportunity, with Luc Brown scoring a goal to end the game at 7-2 (19:24).

Period 3 – Shots on Goal:

Atlanta – 3

Jacksonville – 13

Three Stars:

1. JAX – B. Harris
2. JAX – C. Brown
3. JAX – G. Van Wyhe

Saturday – February 3, 2024 vs. South Carolina Stingrays

On Saturday night, the Atlanta Gladiators’ starting lineup saw Jacob Graves (C), Dylan Carabia, Robert Calisti, Michael Marchesan, and Nolan Burke. Brad Barone would return as the goalkeeper. In the net for the Stingrays was goaltender Garin Bjorklund.

Period 1

Jack Adams seizes a breakaway opportunity in the first minute, only to have his shot blocked by Brad Barone. Soon after, Ryan Leibold creates his breakaway chance, but once again, Barone thwarts the attempt. Brendan Hoffmann takes a remarkable shot at Bjorklund, but it is expertly saved by the goaltender.

Dylan Carabia puts the Gladiators on the PK after being called for Interference. The Stingrays took advantage when Nick Leivermann found the net on the power play, sending the puck from the slot past Brad Barone’s outstretched blocker, putting them ahead 1-0 (7:10). The scoring play was supported by assists from Michael Kim and Ivan Lodnia. Austin Magera would get the interference call himself later in the period, but the Gladiators were unable to make anything of the man advantage.

The Gladiators make a rush on the net with just under a minute remaining in the period. Luke Prokop sends a pass to Pierson but it is deflected over the goaltender’s pad, then Matier takes his chance at the tender but again is stopped. Lastly, with five seconds left, Zach Yoder takes his shot on the net but is stopped by Bjorklund as well. Behind the net, we witness Nick Leivermann, and Navrin Mutter get into a short-lived scrum as the period ends. We finished out the first frame with a score of 1-0, Stingrays.

Period 1 – Shots on Goal:

Atlanta – 5

South Carolina – 14

Period 2

Leivermann and Navrin Mutter start the period sitting in the penalty box for roughing. Just as the period begins, Austin Magera scored an impressive goal by hitting the top left corner of the net, extending the Stingrays’ lead to 2-0 just 44 seconds into the period. Atlanta will go on the PK yet again as Jay Powell gets called for high sticking. Cody Sylvester makes a shot on net just as we resume play, but Bjorklund ends the short-handed chance by the Gladiator forward. Calisti’s pass to Nolan Burke just missed as the Gladiators make another drive on the net.

Both sides witnessed impressive goaltending performances by Bjorklund and Barone, making crucial saves during the middle of the game. Additionally, both teams displayed solid defensive tactics to support their goalkeepers. The intensity peaked when Spencer Kennedy fought with former Gladiator Josh Thrower, throwing the haymakers with Kennedy and getting the home crowd excited. Both players find their way to the penalty box, receiving 5-minute penalties for fighting. Barone continues to make stop after stop, but the Stingrays keep their onslaught on the Gladiator’s net.

Later, Navrin Mutter gets called for roughing and sends himself to the sin bin. While on the PK, the Gladiators get caught up by Jack Adams, who added another goal for South Carolina, putting the puck into the net past Barone and placing the Icemen ahead 3-0 (18:05).

Period 2 – Shots on Goal:

Atlanta – 15

South Carolina – 17

Period 3

Griffin Luce has a near-open net just moments into the third, but Bjorklund gets the glove save.

Dylan Carabia is later penalized for a delay of game, yet the Gladiators successfully defend against the penalty while on the PK.

The Stingrays demonstrated their offensive strength against the Gladiators in the final period, with Jack Adams scoring the fourth goal to expand the Stingrays’ lead to 4-0 (12:24).

Despite the Gladiators’ determined attempts for a comeback, Bjorklund and South Carolina’s defenders maintained their solid defense, securing a shutout victory for the Icemen, as we ended the period 4-0.

Period 3 – Shots on Goal:

Atlanta – 16

South Carolina – 8

Three Stars:

1. SC – G. Bjorklund

2. SC – J. Adams

3. SC – A. Magera

Sunday, February 4, 2024 vs. South Carolina Stingrays

Photo Credit: Karen Zehner for Inside the Rink


Sunday night’s game showcased the starting lineup of forwards Robert Calisti, Nolan Burke, and Michael Marchesan, while Jacob Graves and Dylan Carabia anchored the defense. Despite the loss last night to the Stingrays, Brad Barone delivered an outstanding performance for Atlanta. Unfortunately, Spencer Kennedy was sidelined due to injuries from the previous game. On the opposing team, South Carolina’s Mitchell Gibson guarded the net.

The game held particular importance for many as it was designated as “Stick it to Cancer” night in Atlanta. Players from both teams assembled on the ice, accompanied by a moment of silence from the attending fans to pay tribute to those who have succumbed to cancer and those still bravely fighting it. During this poignant occasion, spectators witnessed a heartwarming scene where the goaltender Mitchell Gibson for the Stingrays and Atlanta Gladiators Luke Prokop assisted a youth hockey player up to the blue line, each player flanking each side of the young player as they made their way to the Gladiators lineup.

The game held special significance as it was “Stick it to Cancer” night in Atlanta. Players from both teams gathered on the ice while fans observed a moment of silence to honor those affected by cancer. This event saw a touching moment as Stingrays’ goaltender Mitchell Gibson and Atlanta Gladiators’ Luke Prokop both assisted youth hockey players making their way to the blue line for the Gladiators.

Period 1

Ustaski set up Yoder for a great shot on goal, but Gibson was able to block the attempt. Unfortunately, the Gladiators suffered a setback when Yoder was penalized for hooking, forcing the team to go on the penalty kill for the first time that night. Barone made two remarkable saves. First, he stopped a shot made by Kylie by getting his glove down on the puck. Then, he made a diving glove grab to prevent Adams from scoring. Despite attempts by Pierson and Yoder to make a play once back to full strength, they were unsuccessful in finding the net.

The Gladiators had a chance to score when Calisti set up Graves, but unfortunately, the shot went wide of the net. The Gladiators had to make some defensive moves as the Stingrays put pressure on their netminder, Barone, but he was able to hold his own and protect the net.

The Gladiators made some impressive moves on the opposing side of the rink. While Luce’s shot was deflected, Mutter’s subsequent attempt was blocked by Gibson. Matier made the shot on goal but was blocked by Gibson. Later, Barone made an equally impressive block, preventing Leibold from scoring during their breakaway attempt towards the net.

The Gladiators had a power play opportunity after Adams was called for hooking and was sent to the penalty box. During the Gladiators’ man advantage, the Stingrays attempted a shot on goal, but Barone made the save. Just moments before returning to full strength, Gibson caught Calisti’s shot with his glove side, keeping the Gladiators out of the net once again. The Gladiators struggled to make a clear and found themselves trapped in their own zone. The Stingrays attempted to take advantage of this, but Barone was able to save Kim’s attempt on the net. As the period came to a close, neither team managed to score, and the number of shots on goal was even.

Period 1 – Shots on Goal:

Atlanta – 9

South Carolina – 9

Period 2

Ryan Cranford took a shot from the left side of the net, but Gibson skillfully caught the puck with his glove. Sylvester and Cranford followed with additional attempts, but both missed the net. Shortly after, the Stingrays made a series of strike attempts, but Barone made an impressive split save. Brendan Hoffmann makes the shot on the net but the net comes off the net during the play and we have a stoppage of the game.

Gladiators fiercely battle to move the puck out of their zone. They eventually succeed, and Burke takes a shot at the goal but, unfortunately, misses wide. The Stingrays make the push back towards the Gladiators’ zone, but Barone expertly slaps the puck out of the zone with his glove hand. Later he makes another save as Sawyer slaps it to the net. The Stingrays get the puck into the net on the forehanded shot by Evans, and the Gladiators are unable to make the second save attempt. The Stingrays are up on the Gladiators 1-0 (10:15).

In the following play-by-play, Sylvester takes a shot from the left circle, but Gibson makes an effortless catch with his glove. Moore from the Stingrays has been called for delay of game, and Yoder was also penalized for cross-checking. As a result, both teams will be skating with four players each. Despite Sylvester and Powell’s best efforts with a strong shot on the net, they are unable to score. The Gladiators, again struggled in the second frame to get any quality shots to find their way to the net, as Barone continued to try and keep the Gladiators in the game.

Period 2 – Shots on Goal:

Atlanta – 5

South Carolina – 15

Period 3

The Stingrays make the initial shot on the Gladiators ne but Barone gets the stop. Jacob Graves got a penalty for tripping, and he sends the team on the PK. Kim is defended by Pierson but Leivermann shoots the puck, Barone saves it, but Kameron Kielly slides it past Barone and secures the rebound goal (1:24). We are now 2-0 in favor of the Stingrays.

The Stingrays find the net once more as Jonny Evans hits the puck right over Barone’sthe shouldne (3:14). We are now 3-0 for the Stingrays. Then, the Gladiators were sent back to the PK after Calisti gets unsportsmanlike conduct. Given the man advantage, Evans takes advantage on a follow-up shot the puck finds its way home (5:24). The Gladiators are now down 4-0 and were getting outshot at every turn this period.

Later, Leivermann gets tally #5 at 11:10 into the period, with Tyson Empey following suit at 13:11, bringing the final score to 6-0 in favor of the Stingrays, securing their second shutout win.

Period 3 – Shots on Goal:

Atlanta – 4

South Carolina – 22

Three Stars:

1. SC – M. Gibson

2. SC – J. Evans

3. SC – A. Magera

Takeaways:

  • SHOTS ON GOAL – The theme of the weekend for the Gladiators was the complete breakdown in scoring opportunities. Though missing some key playmakers in Miller, Vitelli, and the injured Fossier, there is far too much talent on the offensive side to see periods with single digits in shot attempts.
  • GOALTENDERS MAKING SAVES – Brad Barone and Josh Boyko have given the Gladiators some awesome saves throughout the weekend, but as mentioned with past Gladiators’ games, those in-net performances are not enough on their own. There were some solid defensive plays made, to be certain, but in the end, the Gladiators came up short on both sides of the puck.
  • PENALTIES – Friday night against Jacksonville, the Gladiators had a total of 68 minutes in penalties.

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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