ECHL Weekend Recap: Atlanta Gladiators vs. Orlando Solar Bears | 02/24/2024-02/25/2024

Photo Credit: Taylor Trebotte for Inside the Rink

Before the back-to-back games against the Orlando Solar Bears, the Atlanta Gladiators had two significant roster adjustments. Before the first game, Navrin Mutter was reassigned to the Milwaukee Admirals by the Nashville Predators. The next day, Jack Matier was also announced as having returned to the Milwaukee Admirals. Tyler Harmon (G) and Mitch Fossier (F) are both still listed on Injured Reserve for Atlanta.

Saturday – February 24, 2024

The starting lineup for the Atlanta Gladiators included Luke Prokop (D), Jackson Pierson (F), Ryan Cranford (F), Brendan Hoffman (F), and Griffin Luce (D).

Goaltenders:

ATL – Brad Barone

ORL – Evan Fitzpatrick

Period 1

Just as we passed mid-way on the period, the Gladiators head to the penalty kill after Nolan Burke is penalized for roughing. Brad Barone pulls off an impressive save with his pad. The Gladiators manage to successfully kill off the penalty and return to full strength. Shortly after, Reece Vitelli and Winslow engage in a tense conversation following Vitelli’s shot being blocked by Fitzpatrick. No penalty was given to either side. With just minutes left in the period, the Solar Bears get the call for Too Many Men on the Ice (served by Kelly Bent ), and the Gladiators get their first chance at the man advantage.

The period concludes with both teams scoring zero goals.

Period 1 – Shots on Goal:

Atlanta – 14

Orlando – 7

Period 2

29 seconds in, Ryan Cranford sends the Solar Bears to the PP after there is a call for Delay of Game. Miller gets a strong short-handed shot on the net but is blocked down. The Gladiators successfully kill the penalty and returned to full strength. Spencer Kennedy and Daniel Walker throw down the gloves with the latter landing a solid shot on Kennedy during the tilt. Kennedy and Walker both get the five-minute majors. We head to the 4-on-4.

Later, after Brad Barone stops a shot on the net, the Gladiators are sent to the PK when Mitch Walinski gets nabbed for slashing and makes a trip to the sin bin. Barone gets the puck covered after a shot by the Solar Bears nearly gets to the net. The Gladiators successfully kill the penalty and Walinski makes his way to the ice.

Jay Powell and Kelly Bent then get into a scruff and Powell gives Bent a few shots but the fight ends with both players heading off the ice.

At the end of the period, the score remained tied at zero.

Period 2 – Shots on Goal:

Atlanta – 3

Orlando – 19

Period 3

Aaron Luchuk has the puck luck in his favor as Bones tries to make the stop only to have Luchuk find the twine, putting the Solar Bears ahead 1-0 (8:04).

Atlanta pulled Brad Barone from the net and added the additional attacker in the final minute of the game. Regrettably, Atlanta’s comeback effort ended as the clock ran out.

Period 3 – Shots on Goal:

Atlanta – 17

Orlando – 13

Three Stars:

1. ORL – E. Fitzpatrick

2. ORL – A. Luchuk

3. ORL – T. Bird


Sunday – February 25, 2024

The starting lineup for the Atlanta Gladiators included Luke Prokop (D), Reece Vitelli (F), Michael Marchesan (F), Micha Miller (F), and Griffin Luce (D).

Goaltenders:

ATL – Josh Boyko

ORL – Brandon Halverson

Period 1

Atlanta’s Josh Boyko makes an early stunner of a save as the game kicked off between the Solar Bears and the Gladiators.

The Atlanta Gladiators headed to the penalty kill after Jacob Graves got snagged for Delay of Game which led to a PP goal by Mitchell Hoelscher and the Solar Bears got the early lead of 1-0 (5:55). Shortly after, several players from both sides mix it up. The Atlanta Gladiators will get their chance on the man advantage as Daniel Walker gets the trip to the sin bin for roughing. However, the Solar Bears killed the penalty successfully and we returned to full strength.

On a turnover by the Solar Bears, Luke Prokop nearly slides the puck home but is unable to find the net.

Pierson wins the faceoff, and Reece Vitelli scores the goal as he sends the puck past Halverson, equalizing the game 1-1 at 17:31. Jackson Pierson assists on the goal. The period concludes with both teams tied at one goal each.

Period 1 – Shots on Goal:

Atlanta – 13

Orlando – 11

Period 2

Halverson blocks both Reece Vitelli’s shot and Micha Miller’s on the rebound after they both take powerful shots at the net early on, only to be thwarted by the goalkeeper. Luchuk of the Solar Bears will break the tie as he tips it in past Barone bringing the Solar Bears ahead by one at 4:14 into the period.

Later, Boyko blocks Dickinson’s shot on goal. Hoffmann had a prime opportunity at the net but missed, while Marchesan’s shot also went wide. Winning the draw after an icing call, Calisti takes a wicked shot on Halverson but his attempt misses the net.

There is a delayed penalty on the Solar Bears’ Ben Carroll and at the end of play for high sticking, the Gladiators get the man advantage for the second time. The Solar Bears are the ones that get the benefit after Brayden Low goes on the breakaway and they increase their lead to 3-1, short-handed (13:41).

Reece Vitelli receives a penalty for roughing and is sent to the sin bin. He is soon joined by Solar Bears’ Gosselin, who is penalized for cross-checking. With both players in the box, the game intensifies as both teams strive to score with a 4-on-4 opportunity.

Reece Vitelli attempted a stunning buzzer-beater goal with only 0.01 seconds remaining on the clock as the period neared its end. Despite the puck going in, the play was reviewed, and the decision was “No Goal”.

Period 2 – Shots on Goal:

Atlanta – 15

Orlando – 13

Period 3

Bent pushes Calisti, leading both players to tumble to the ice. Shortly after, Hoffmann makes a hard hit on a Solar Bear as the Gladiators aim to shift the momentum. Ryan Cranford has a 2-on-1 chance but is unable to score. Jesse Jacques seized a breakaway chance, but Boyko prevented the puck from reaching the net with his blocker.

Jackson Pierson attempts a shot on goal, but Halverson blocks it with his legs to deny the scoring opportunity. Following Hoffmann’s faceoff win, Atlanta tries to take some action on the net. Walinski fires two shots on goal, but Halverson blocks both attempts. Shortly after, Zach Yoder took a shot of his own, but narrowly missed the attempt. Hoffmann had another sweet opportunity on the net but unfortunately missed the basket.

Miller took the shot, narrowly missing the net. The Gladiators pulled Boyko out of the net, only to have him return moments later when the puck was iced. A shot from the far side by the Gladiators missed the net, with only minutes left on the clock. Boyko is out of the net once more. With seconds left the Gladiators rush the net, including a shot by Micha Miller that missed. The Gladiators fall to the Solar Bears 3-1 in regulation.

Period 3 – Shots on Goal:

Atlanta – 13

Orlando – 6

Three Stars:

1. ORL – B. Halverson

2. ORL – B. Low

3. ORL – T. Bird

Takeaways:

  • Throughout the game series, except for the second period in Game #1 against the Solar Bears, during which they only managed 3 shots on goal, the Gladiators consistently had more shots on goal than their opponent.
  • Consistency and Discipline are still of great importance to a team that does not seem to have the puck luck on their side.

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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