The Atlanta Gladiators took on the Jacksonville Icemen at home for their Margaritaville-themed game, where they wore social jerseys and came with a fresh new energy after facing a deflating loss the night before the South Carolina Stingrays. It is no secret that the Gladiators went from an eight-stretch win stretch to a downward spiral, barely winning any games since. The glads currently sit at 11-20 and are making their way to having one of the worst records in the ECHL. And still, the Gladiator fans continue to show up and support their team. One may wonder if they were playing as great as they were before if Gas South Arena would be sold out for home games.
The Gladiators have a strong history, but as of late, they have struggled to finish the game. The ECHL team can only be as good as their affiliate teams. In this case, the Gladiators are affiliated with the Nashville Predators of the NHL and currently sit at 22-17-1, 4th in the Central Division. So, they are not the best, but they are not the worst either, which reflects what the Gladiators are for the season.
However, the Gladiators have some real star potential on their team as they are led by Forwards Alex Whelan, #8, whooping 14 goals in 23 games, and Mitchell Fossier, #18, with 10 goals and 26 games played. They also have some power in the defensemen like Robert Calisti, #4, who has played in 25 games and scored five goals with eight assists.
If this team could once go 8- straight, why they cannot do it again is wondered. Is it due to the teams surrounding them getting better, or are they not as good as they seemed at the beginning of the season? Only winning three games since the initial winning streak does not look like a progressing team that could be contenders for the South. Right now, the Gladiators are ranked no. 14 in the conference, and the Jacksonville Icemen are ranked no. 5. Although it is a long way until the end of the regular season in April, the Gladiators have much work to do to climb the latter to get into the postseason.
In today’s game against the Icemen, the game stayed tied for the 1st and 2nd periods. Both teams have shown a certain grit when they face each other, and today was no different. They both fight hard, but ultimately, one has to finish the game. Both goalies were spot on with protecting the net, which showed confidence in the defensemen when they could stop the goal from going in. Both teams were neck and neck when it came to shots to the goal, leveling in the low 20s in strikes coming into the third period, which signifies that the goalies were indeed doing their jobs. In the previous game, the goalie let seven goals go, so to only have 1 goal in this game is a hoot and a show of progress.
Whether it was a change of line or simply a change of attitude, it seemed to be working. The crowd was cheering behind them as the Gladiators looked to secure a win in their Margarita-themed jerseys. It was also a pretty low-penalty game. Coming into the third, there was a total of 5 penalties, and if you know anything about hockey, then you know that can be relatively low with a challenging game such as this.
The third period showed much intensity, especially down at the net. The Glads fought to get a score early in the third, but the Icemen held them off. At this point, the crowd was going wild over the thought of the Gladiators securing the game’s second goal. Then finally the puck went into the net and the crowd set out an uproar! The Glads had finally gotten a goal into the net with under 10 minutes remaining in the game. But, as you know, the game is not over until it is over, so they had to fight hard to keep the Icemen from their side of the ice. Around 3 minutes, the Icemen opted for another man and left an open net.
This was the chance the Glads needed; although it meant another Icemen on the ice, it also meant an empty net. The Gladiators fought hard to take advantage of the open net, and the fans were right behind them with the chants. The time boiled down with one minute remaining; could they do it?
The anticipation was thick in the arena. They did it! With 15 seconds remaining, they scored a goal! That secured the Gladiators win against the Jacksonville Icemen 3-1. The Glads move on, hoping to secure another win on Jan 12 against the Trois-Rivières Lions.
This is Dez Barnes of Pretty Girls Love Sports, a journalist on the MTMV Sports platform. She is a retired US Army veteran, professional cheerleader, pet mom, and avid sports lover. Feel free to follow her writings as she dives into the latest sports news! You can find her on all social media channels @PGLOVESPORTS.