Wroblewski led the Glads to a 41-20-7-4 record, earning the team a South Division championship, a second place finish in the East, and a playoff berth. On April 6th, the Gladiators participate in the second longest ECHL game in history, dropping a heartbreaking 4-3 playoff game to the Stingrays in the fourth overtime. Zach Tarkir broke the deadlock just after midnight on April 7th and four minutes into the fourth overtime session, just two minutes short of the all-time record of 126 minutes and 10 seconds. Both goaltenders played all 124:19 minutes; Marc Cheverie makes 44 saves on 48 shots, while Rob Madore makes 54 saves on 57 shots. South Carolina took a 2-1 series lead in the best-of-five. One day later, and for the second straight game, the Gladiators lost an emotional overtime game, ending their season when they dropped a 4-3 decision to the Stingrays in the second overtime session. John Wroblewski was recognized by the league at the end of the post-season, winning the John Brophy Award as the ECHL Coach of the Year.
In August 2017, the Atlanta Gladiators organization went through several key management changes. First it was announced that Team President Joe Gelderman was leaving the organization to pursue a different career path. Then Head Coach Andy Brandt accepted an Associate Head Coach position with the NCAA’s St. Norbert College hockey program. Scott Henrichsen, a former employee of the Atlanta Falcons from 2002 to 2009, was named President of the Atlanta Gladiators. Henrichsen comes to the Gladiators with over 20 years of experience in sales and the sports industry for various sports teams at every level, including the Minnesota Wild and the Idaho Steelheads. Henrichsen, who previously served various organizations as Director of Ticket Sales, Director of Business Operations and General Manager, now makes the logical next step as Team President.
Other changes in front office included the departures of long time staffers Jim Hall, Christi Johnson and Chris Leverette.
In keeping with previous five year anniversaries, the Atlanta Gladiators unveiled several logos to celebrate their 15th anniversary season in the Atlanta area since relocation from Mobile in 2002. Their new “Advance The Legacy” slogan plays on the common abbreviation for Atlanta (ATL) and the teams desire to return to their years of on-ice successes.
Prior to the start of the 2017-18 season, the Gladiators announced that Chuck Weber has been named the fifth Head Coach and General Manager of Hockey Operations in team history. Weber’s resume included 17 seasons as coach or assistant coach in the AHL, ECHL and in Europe. The bulk of his experience has been in the ECHL, where he held a 177-92-19 record as head coach and captured two Kelly Cup Championships. Weber stated his goals were “to maximize this team’s potential, develop players for the AHL all while winning as many games as possible. I have learned what it takes to be a consistently successful organization at the ECHL level. There will be a lot of ups and downs throughout the season, but I feel my experience will benefit in managing those situations.”
Ups and downs there were. In an injury-plagued season, the Gladiators roster included 27 forwards, 19 defensemen and 7 goaltenders. “I’ve never seen a season like this as far as injuries,” said Weber, whose first year with Atlanta was his 19th coaching pro hockey. We lost over 300 man games to injuries this year. We by far led the ECHL in games lost. This season, for me, was trying to find bodies,” Weber told the Gwinnett Daily Post. The Gladiators were in third place in their division through February, but a late season slump put them in fourth and left them facing the team with the best record in the league, the Florida Everblades, in the first round of the playoffs. The Glads were the only team in the playoffs with a record under .500, but it was the first time they were in the playoffs since 2013. The injuries continued in the playoffs as well, with three players going down. They were swept in round one, but three of the four games went down to the wire with game four being decided in overtime.
Most troubling was the continued decline in attendance. With the regular season average hitting an all-time low of 4215 fans per game, new ownership from out of state and the team in negotiations for a new arena lease, hockey fans in Atlanta have cause for concern.
In July 2018, the Gladiators announced that Jeff Pyle, the winningest coach in franchise history, was returning for the 2018-19 season. Pyle moved with the former Mobile Mystics to Atlanta in 2003 after coaching in Mobile for the previous four seasons. Pyle's 309-210-57 record over eight seasons with the Gladiators made the team a perennial playoff contender, reaching the post season six out of eight years, including one trip to the Kelly Cup Finals. Pyle's 477 ECHL wins is third all-time behind John Brophy and John Marks.
The team introduced new jersey designs for 2018-19. The new jerseys retained the team’s three main colors; garnet, gold and black, along with the Gladiator head logo and secondary shield and sword logo, both of which were in use for all fifteen seasons. The dark jersey, formerly black, would now feature garnet as the main color. The white jersey was replaced with a gold jersey, reportedly making the Gladiators the only team in the NHL, AHL or ECHL to not have a white jersey as one of their main home and road uniforms.
In December, the Gladiators continued their tradition of honoring former Atlanta professional hockey teams by introducing their new heritage jerseys which combined elements from the jerseys worn by the Flames, Knights and Thrashers with the elements of the Gladiators jerseys worn for the fifteen previous seasons.
By early January, the team had a dismal 8-19-5-1 record. Then the team caught fire and went on a franchise-record 13 game point streak which ended on Valentine’s Day. On February 22, Jeff Pyle became just the second coach in ECHL history to reach 500 career wins when the Gladiators blanked Rapid City 4-0. In the last two weeks of the season, the Gladiators were battling for the final divisional playoff spot with South Carolina. The team went 0-4-0-1 in its last five games of the season, with three of those against the Stingrays. It came down to the final game of the season and the Gladiators had to beat South Carolina in regulation in order to qualify for the playoffs. They couldn’t get it done.
“It's disappointing because we lost, but I'm proud of the year considering all the stuff we had to go through,” head coach Jeff Pyle was quoted as saying following the final game. “I think we've prepared a good nucleus for next year. It is a pretty good group of guys, but we needed everybody to step up today and obviously we didn't get it.
The good news is the team saw an uptick in their average attendance, with a 4,686 paid attendance per game. It has been rumored that the team has reached a new arena deal but it had not been formally announced by the season’s end.
On August 6, 2019, the Atlanta Gladiators introduced an updated team image that included new colors and logos prior to the start of their 17th season. The new colors of blue and gold were reportedly chosen as a sharp contrast to the standard black and red that dominates the Atlanta sports market, something the team hopes will help them to "create a unique identity and attract fans throughout the highly diverse landscape in metro Atlanta." Initial fan reaction was mixed but many were hopeful that the new colors might signal a new affiliation agreement on the horizon with the Nashville Predators.
The Gladiators had an up and down season through the end of December, finishing 2019 with a 13-16 record. After the first of the year, the team got hot at home, winning nine in a row from January 29 through March 6 and picking up points in their last ten games before the ECHL announced March 12 it was suspending play as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Just two days later, the ECHL Board of Governors approved the cancellation of the remainder of the 2019-20 Season.
Eric Neily and Sam Asselin led the offense with over 20 goals each and Atlanta’s 200 total goals put them atop 15 of the 26 teams in the ECHL. Defense, however, was an issue, with only three other teams giving up more goals than Atlanta. With the Gladiators being the hottest team in the ECHL right before the untimely end to the season, one can only speculate what might have happened if the team earned a playoff spot. Unfortunately, attendance hit an all-time low of 4075 per game.
On October 1, 2020, the Atlanta Gladiators announced that the team would opt out of competition during the 2020-2021 ECHL season under the ECHL’s COVID-19 Voluntary Suspension policy. The decision was based on the Infinite Energy Arena's implementation of a 25% fan capacity limit on all events with stringent social distancing, reportedly based on state and local COVID-19 guidelines. This requirement would not allow the team to generate enough ticket or sponsorship revenue. The team will return to play in the 2021-2022 ECHL season.
Gas South acquired Infinite Energy in December 2020, so the arena name was changed to Gas South Arena. In August, Team President Jerry James announced a one-year affiliation agreement with the National Hockey League’s Ottawa Senators and their AHL affiliate the Belleville Senators. The team came out of the gate strong, winning five of their first six games, but found themselves below .500 by the end of December. The squad built momentum in 2022, going 10-3 in January, 8-3 in February and 10-3 in March, including a franchise-tying nine game win streak. But the Glads faltered in April, going 3-5 and finished the season with a 43-24-4-1 record for 91 points. The Gladiators clinched a playoff spot for the first time since the 2017-18 campaign and it was the team's highest finish in the standings since 2012-13.
Tied with Florida for first place in the south division going into the final weekend, the Glads had back-to-back games with the Everblades in Estero, but only came away with one point, dropping them into second place. In the first round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs, Atlanta faced the Jacksonville Icemen in a best of seven series. Despite finishing as the higher seed, the Gladiators were forced, once again, to play the first four games in Jacksonville due to Gas South Arena management booking Disney on Ice during the first round of the ECHL playoffs. The Gladiators mediocre play that began at the beginning of April continued and they were swept by the Icemen and sent to an early off-season.
There were many positives in the 2021-22 season, with having hockey back after the COVID lockdown being tops on the list. Nine different players finished with at least 30 points in the regular season, the team had great goaltending and they overcame adversity due to injuries, call-ups and the lack of practice time. On the negative side, the average crowd at Gas South Arena dropped to its lowest ever at 3,780 per game. Rumors continue to circulate that the team will be moving to the new 5,500 seat arena in Athens, slated to be complete for the 2023-24 season.
A new ownership group, the ATL Hockey Group, was introduced in October. Led by majority owner and businessman Alex Campbell and longtime NHL player and minority owner Anson Carter, the new owners established an affiliation with the Arizona Coyotes and the AHL Tucson Roadrunners. It was not the first time with the Coyotes organization: the teams were affiliated from 2011-15. The Gladiators opened their nineteenth season with high expectations.
The new ownership and affiliation convinced Jeff Pyle to return as head coach with Derek Nesbitt as assistant coach. Many of the players from the ’21-22 season returned. At the midpoint of the season, however, the team went on a skid, winning only two of fifteen games. The team finished the season with a 35-30-6-1 record and failed to make the playoffs.
High points included December 16, when the Gladiators donned special throwback Thrashers jerseys to recreate Blueland at Gas South Arena. The largest crowd of the season showed up, many in Thrashers gear, only to see the Glads drop an overtime decision to Greenville. With an assist in the season finale, Mike Pelech took sole possession of third most points in ECHL history. Cody Sylvester surpassed Colton Fretter’s single season goal scoring record with 37. Average attendance increased to 4,696 per game.