Gladiators Use Fast Start To Hold Off Rays

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - Phil Lane scored twice and Brady Vail added three assists for the Atlanta Gladiators (13-15-1-1), who held off a third period comeback attempt by the South Carolina Stingrays (17-6-3-1) for a 4-3 decision at the North Charleston Coliseum on Friday night.

Steven Whitney had a goal and an assist for South Carolina while Patrick Gaul picked up two helpers in a losing effort. Goaltender Parker Milner got the start and made a total of 18 saves for the Stingrays.

The Gladiators got out to a 2-0 lead in the first period on an early goal by Lane at 1:02 and a strike from Alexandre Carrier at 8:04.

Then Whitney got the Rays on the board and back in the game with his seventh goal of the season from Gaul and Paul Geiger at 15:08 of the first period. Gaul fired a shot on net from the left wing that was stopped by Atlanta goaltender Dan Vladar, but the rebound came out in front to Whitney, who used a backhand shot to lift it into the net and make it 2-1.
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Lane struck again for Atlanta early on in the second to make it 3-1 with his second of the night at 1:14 of the middle period.

But defenseman Tommy Hughes responded for South Carolina later in the frame at 17:06 to once again bring SC within one goal at 3-2. The goal was Hughes' first of the season and came on a shot from the right point of the offensive zone that deflected past Vladar with assists by Gaul and Marcus Perrier.

Atlanta increased their lead to 4-2 on a goal by defenseman Ben Danford at 5:23 of the third and put the game out of reach for the Stingrays.

In a late desperation effort, South Carolina cut it back to a one-goal game with 18 seconds to go on a deflection in front by forward Andrew Cherniwchan. Rays' captain Joe Devin took a shot from the left point with traffic in front and the team's leading goal scorer got his 10th of the year on the re-direct. Whitney picked up the second assist on the final strike of the game.

Despite taking the loss, South Carolina outshot Atlanta 31-22 in the game, with Vladar making 28 saves to earn the victory for the Gladiators. Neither team scored on the power play as Atlanta finished the game 0-for-7 and the Stingrays were 0-for-3.

The Stingrays complete their three-game week with a trip to Greenville to battle the Swamp Rabbits on Saturday night at 7:05 p.m.