The Gladiators faced-off for the second and final time against Cincinnati in search of a series sweep at the U.S. Bank Arena. The Gladiators got a goal with just over a minute remaining from captain Derek Nesbitt to move their point streak to four games and earn the 3-2 victory over the Cyclones Friday night.
The Gladiators opened up the night’s scoring with a tally 12:10 into the first period. Joe Gatenby received a pass from Branden Troock at the point. The rookie defender turned a fired a shot towards the net that was deflected on goal by Troock standing in front. After the puck hit off of the pad of Cyclones goalie, Jason Kassdorf, Darby Llewellyn knocked in the rebound for his 16th goal of the season.
The Cyclones wasted no time in responding as they potted their first goal less than a minute later. Brock Buekeboom threw a shot towards the Atlanta net from the blue-line. Jesse Shultz skating across the crease re-directed the puck past Glads’ goalie, Sean Bonar they went just across the goal-line for his 18th mark of the year. Alex Kile notched the second assist on the play.
Cincinnati took advantage of a power play to take their first lead of the game 5:52 into the middle session. Mike Barrett slid a pass from behind the net to Daniel Muzito-Bagenda in the right circle. The former Rochester American ripped a one-time shot into the top-shelf of the net for his 15th goal on the campaign. Eric Knodel earned the secondary helper on second Cyclone tally.
The Gladiators tied the contest late in the second period to knot the game at two. Davis Vandane held the puck in at the blue-line and propelled a shot towards the net. After changing directions two times en route to the goal, the puck hit off of a Cyclone and went over the goal-line. Gatenby registered his second point of the game ad third point in his first two pro contests with the assist.
With just over a minute to go in the game Atlanta took the late-lead. Tanner Pond gave the puck to Derek Nesbitt at the half-wall from the corner. The Glads’ captain put together a quick give-and-go play with Phil Lane and slammed the puck past Kasdorf from the low-slot. Nesbitt’s 14th goal of the season stood up as the game-winning goal.
With the dramatic late-game heroics, the Gladiators improved to 67 points on the year with a record of 31-32-2-3 and increased their lead in the fourth spot in the South Division to 10 points. Cincinnati was handed their fifth straight loss and dropped to 35-27-3-0 with 73 points.
Up next, the Gladiators head home to face another Central Division opponent, the Kalamazoo Wings, on Wednesday March 28th at the Infinite Energy Arena at 7:05pm.