GREENVILLE, S.C. – The Atlanta Gladiators stymied the Greenville Swamp Rabbits Wednesday night in a 3-1 victory, due in large part to the contributions of their defense and goalie Sean Bonar.
Bonar stopped 30 of the Rabbits’ 31 shots in route to his sixth win of the season.
The visiting Gladiators struck quickly, thanks to a long-range feed from Alexey Solovyev. The Russian defenseman gathered the puck from a Greenville skater before feeding Logan Nelson in transition through the neutral zone. Nelson dangled a defender before slotting the puck away for the first tally of the night just over three minutes into the contest.
Bonar and the rest of the Atlanta defense was solid throughout the evening, negating multiple scoring chances by Swamp Rabbits rookie sensation Liam Pecararo. Solovyev continued his contributions to the offense when he snagged a puck skittering towards the neutral zone at the blue line. His hard shot on target was tipped down by Samuel Asselin and past Greenville goalie Ryan Bednard to double the lead with 11:25 to play in the middle frame.
The Gladiators earned the first power play opportunity of the night after a Nathan Perkovich hooking call just over four minutes to play in the second. Scott Conway had an excellent chance to extend the Atlanta lead when his shot beat Bednard and clipped the crossbar. The puck trickled out, creating a Greenville 2-on-1 short-handed chance. Pecararo found Michael Pelech to cut the Atlanta lead in half before the second intermission.
Atlanta’s defense had to stand tall down the stretch, as the Swamp Rabbits desperately poured pucks on Bonar’s net. With the net empty in the final minutes, Joel Messner gathered the puck off a face-off win and rattled it around the boards. It tumbled directly toward the open goal and gave the Glads a two-goal lead they would not relinquish.