Written by Jake Wheeler
DULUTH, GA- The Jacksonville Icemen fell to the Atlanta Gladiators 5-3 as Atlanta’s Eric Neiley stole the show with the hat trick.
A few minutes into the game, there was a miscue in Jacksonville’s defensive zone which led to Atlanta’s Eri Neiley finding the back of the net from the low slot. Moments later, the Gladiators struck again as Paul McAvoy came down the leftwing boards and snapped the puck home from the left faceoff dot.
The game later saw 4-on-4 play which eventually transitioned into an Atlanta powerplay with no goals, but as Craig Martin came out of the penalty box for Jacksonville, he received the puck from Jacob Friend and took off on a breakaway and scored to cut the deficit to one goal. After 20 minutes of play, the Icemen trailed 2-1.
The Icemen got off to another slower start in the second period as the Gladiators would strike again just two minutes in thanks to Derek Nesbitt crashing the net after a faceoff and getting the rebound to make it a 3-1 Gladiator edge.
The Icemen had back-to-back powerplays, but they could not convert followed by the Gladiators receiving a five-minute powerplay. While on the powerplay, Atlanta would score again as Eric Neiley directed a point shot to take a commanding three-goal lead.
Late in the period, Jacksonville got back on the board as Jacob Friend walked down to the left faceoff dot and one-timed a pass from Luke Lynch to cut the deficit back to two goals after 40 minutes of play.
Just minutes into the third period, Neiley took advantage of an Icemen turnover in their own end and flexed a shot from the slot past Francois Brassard for third goal of the game to make it a 5-2 contest.
Following a few fights between the two clubs, the Icemen would score late in the period as Abbott Girduckis scored a shorthanded goal to cut the deficit to two goals. The Icemen would pull their goaltender for the extra attacker, but it wasn’t enough as they lost 5-3 while outshooting the Gladiators 33-30.
The Icemen play in Orlando on Tuesday, April 12th at 7pm versus the Orlando Solar Bears.