Written by Jake Wheeler
JACKSONVILLE, FL- Brendan Harris scored the tying and game-winning goal in the third period to help life the Icemen to a 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Gladiators in Game 1 of the South Division Semifinals Thursday night at Veterans Memorial Arena.
Atlanta would get the scoring started as Sanghoon Shin went in on a breakaway chance and buried a wrist shot to take the first lead of the game.
Late in the period, the Icemen would get on the board as Ian McKinnon received a pass in the slot from Ara Nazarian and netted it to tie up the game at one goal apiece after one period of play.
The Icemen started off period two on the powerplay but generated little pressure. With a few minutes remaining in the period, Atlanta capitalized on their best opportunity of the period as veteran forward Derek Nesbitt pick up the puck at the goal line and tapped it into the net to regain the lead. After 40 minutes of play, the Icemen trailed 2-1 while outshooting the Gladiators 24-16.
The Icemen got off to an incredible start in period three as they answered with two quick goals. The first one was scored by Brendan Harris as he corralled the puck and backhanded it towards the net, and it deflected off a Gladiators player and into the net.
Harris also grabbed the second goal of the period, when he tipped a Jacob Panetta slapshot from the point that found the back of the net and allowed the Icemen to take their first lead of the game.
The physicality and post whistle scrums really picked up in the third period as Jacksonville got a powerplay following a scrum late in the period. Atlanta generated several quality scoring opportunities which were thwarted by stellar saves by Francois Brassard. Despite some tense moments later, the Icemen held on for the 3-2 win to take a 1-0 series lead.
The Icemen host the Atlanta Gladiators on Friday, April 22nd for Game 2 at 7pm.