Bad to the Bone: Bonar earns 38-save shutout in thumping of Norfolk

Photo: Atlanta Gladiators

DULUTH, GA – The Atlanta Gladiators topped the Norfolk Admirals 5-0 Saturday night to cap off Hockey Fights Cancer Weekend. G Sean Bonar registered a shutout in his first home game since December 21st, and F Tommy Marchin notched two goals to lift Atlanta to their 27th win and seventh straight game with a point.

Atlanta’s surging power play entered the night ranked eighth in the ECHL at 19.4%. That unit got a chance to work just 1:58 into the game when F Mitch Vandergunst was called for interference. Only :34 second into the man-advantage, D Joel Messner and F Avery Peterson assisted F Eric Neiley on his 21st goal of the season after Messner’s shot from the blue line deflected wide by Peterson to Neiley for the shot from the base of the face-off circle.

Marchin earned a trip to the penalty box after a hooking penalty with 7:44 to play in the first. Norfolk was pushing for a final chance on their man-advantage when they cleared the puck to the blue line, but only found a streaking Marchin out of the penalty box. The rookie netted his 20th goal of the season, becoming the third Atlanta player to cross the threshold.

Just :32 seconds into the middle frame, the home team brought the 6,145 in attendance to their feet again. A misplayed puck by Norfolk skittered behind Admirals G Roman Durny and was pushed across by F Logan Nelson to grab a three-goal margin.

Atlanta went to the penalty kill again just past the halfway point of the second period. Norfolk’s best efforts were thwarted by the stingy Gladiators’ defense, and a long clearance brought Durny out of his net to the face-off circle. He wristed the puck to the neutral zone to give the Admirals a final chance with the man-advantage, but the pass was intercepted by Marchin at the blue line. The Brown University product then skated to the goal crease before wristing his second tally of the night by Durny to lift Atlanta to the 4-0 lead.

The Admirals looked weary in the late minutes of the contest, and the Gladiators capped off a big night when Nesbitt and Nelson assisted Zach Malatesta on his 12th goal of the season with 5:15 to play in the game. Bonar stopped all 38 Norfolk shots in route to the team’s third shutout of the season.

The victory gives Atlanta eight straight home wins, including being unbeaten at Infinite Energy Arena in the month of February. The Gladiators hit the road Tuesday night when they visit the Orlando Solar Bears at 7:00 PM.  Atlanta returns to home ice on Friday, March 6th when they host Orlando at 7:35 PM for Marvel Super Hero Night.

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