JACKSONVILLE, FL- Ben Hawerchuk’s goal 9:12 into overtime guided the Jacksonville Icemen to a 5-4 overtime win over the Atlanta Gladiators in Game 2 of the South Division Semifinals Friday Night at Veterans Memorial Arena.
After a scoreless first period, the Icemen got off to a fantastic start in period two as they came out and took control of the play. The Icemen got the scoring started as James Sanchez redirected a Sean Giles point shot to take the first lead of the game.
Moments later, Brendan Harris received a pass from Abbott Girduckis in the slot, and he buried it for his third goal of the playoffs to make it a 2-0 lead for the Icemen. Jacksonville would then go back to the penalty kill and they did not give Atlanta any time and space and successfully killed off the penalty.
The Icemen added another one as Ian McKinnon jumped on a lost faceoff and fed the puck to Travis Howe in the crease and buried it to make it a three-goal lead.
Later in the period, the Gladiators got on the board as Paul McAvoy scored from the slot. of play, Jacksonville led 3-1 while outshooting Atlanta 21-16.
The Icemen got off to another good start in period three as they continued to have sustained offensive zone pressure. Jacksonville went on the powerplay halfway through the period and made Atlanta pay as Abbott Girduckis scored off of a cross-crease feed from Ara Nazarian to extend the Icemen lead back to three.
However, the Gladiators came on strong in the last five minutes of the game as they pulled their goaltender to get the extra attacker out onto the ice.
The Gladiators scored three goals as Hugo Roy, Mike Turner and Cody Sylvester scored in the final five minutes of regulation, Sylvester scored his goal with one-tenth of a second remaining to force the game into overtime.
In overtime, the Icemen had to weather the storm and stop the Gladiators momentum. The Icemen went to the penalty kill early in overtime, and were able to hold off the Atlanta attack.
Near the halfway point of the extra session, the Icemen rimmed the puck around in the zone. Craig Martin collected it in the corner and feathered a pass to Ben Hawerchuk racing toward the net. Hawerchuk skated it to the top of the crease and stashed the puck through the five-hole of Murdaca to seal the wild 5-4 overtime victory and give the Icemen a 2-0 series lead.
The Icemen will host Games 3 & 4 this Wednesday (April 27) and Thursday (April 28). Game time for both contests are 7:00 p.m.