JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Friday night, the Jacksonville Icemen clinched a playoff spot in their win against the Atlanta Gladiators. In the first of a two-game weekend series, the Icemen took a 4-3 victory, eliminating the Gladiators from advancing to the Kelly Cup playoffs and tying their franchise record for wins in a season.
Jacksonville was all over Atlanta to start the first period. Chris Grando put Jacksonville on the board first, but a shorthanded goal by Atlanta’s Mike Pelech changed the game’s momentum for the Gladiators. Derek Topatigh scored two minutes later to give Atlanta a 2-1 lead heading into the second period.
The second period was all Jacksonville, with three goals and outshooting Atlanta 14-2. Jacob Panetta tied the game on the power play, and Matheson Iacopelli gave Jacksonville the lead less than three minutes later, also on a power play. Two minutes later, Mackenzie Dwyer scored what would be the game-winner for Jacksonville on a somewhat controversial goal that had Atlanta’s netminder Joe Murdaca livid. Jacob Panetta was pushed into the goaltender by an Atlanta player which took the feet from under Murdaca. A video review would determine that the two players had separated before Dwyers shot, hitting the back of the net.
Down 4-2 heading into the final period, Atlanta fought back hard, outshooting Jacksonville 16-4. Sang-Hoon Shin made it a one-goal deficit for Atlanta at the 15:52 mark. With their netminder pulled for the extra attacker, Jacksonville was able to hold on to take the win and punch their playoff ticket. The two teams take to the ice again Saturday evening.
Check out this photo gallery from Field Pass Hockey’s Andrew Fielder for highlights from the game.
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