The Gwinnett Gladiators played host to the Idaho Steelheads in ECHL action Saturday night at The Arena at Gwinnett Center and came away with a 3-2 win in front of 8,041 fans on Gwinnett’s tenth annual Teddy Bear Toss night. The win keeps the Gladiators 2 points behind Greenville for the South Division lead after the Road Warriors downed Florida by a 5-1 count.
The first period saw Gwinnett (27-17-1-1) outshoot Idaho (26-11-1-4) 16-6, but Steelheads goaltender Josh Robinson blocked all 16 shots and Glads netminder Louis Domingue stopped all six Idaho shots to keep the clubs scoreless at the first intermission.
Defenseman Corey Fienhage started the scoring at 2:36 of the second period when he uncorked a slap shot that got past Robinson (L, 37 saves on 40 chances), who was screened on the play, for his second goal of the 2012-13 campaign. Andy Brandt and Nick Walsh got the helpers on the marker.
After the bears had been cleared from the ice and play resumed Idaho took less than two minutes (4:25) to even the score when forward David Toews beat Domingue (W, 23 saves on 25 shots). Bryce Reddick and Ben Ondrus earned the assists. While the clubs combined for 26 shots in the middle stanza those were the only two goals and after 40 minutes of hockey Gwinnett and Idaho remained locked in a tie, 1-1.
The Steelheads took a 2-1 lead at 4:53 of the third period when Andrew Carroll redirected a shot past Domingue on the power play. Austin Fyten and Patrick Cullity picked up the assists. Alex Belzile lit the lamp for the Gladiators 11:43 into the final period to tie the score at 2-2. The forward tucked the puck past Robinson with Fienhage and Doug Jones adding the assists.
The clubs battled for the lead, but the score remained tied as the final minute of regulation play approached. Casey Pierro-Zabotel broke the stalemate and put Gwinnett ahead with what became the game winning goal with only 1:07 remaining in the final period on the power play. Jones picked up his second assist of the game on the marker, while Sacha Guimond earned his first point of the night. The Glads held on over the final minutes to secure the 3-2 victory in the first-ever meeting between the two teams..
Domingue improves to 13-6-0-1 for the season with a 2.97 GAA and a 0.894 SAV% after the Gwinnett win, Robinson falls to 14-4-1-1 with a 2.87 GAA and a 0.914 SAV% in taking the loss for Idaho.
Gwinnett missed several power play opportunities, going 1-for-8 while totaling 6 infractions for 12 penalty minutes. Idaho was 1-for-4 on the PP and racked up 30 penalty minutes on 11 infractions.
Gwinnett totaled 40 shots compared to 25 for Idaho.
First Star: GWT – 18 Casey Pierro-Zabotel (1 Goal, GW Goal-his fourth of the season)
Second Star: GWT – 3 Corey Fienhage (1 Goal, 1 Assist, +2 rating)
Third Star: IDH – 19 David Toews (1Goal)
The Gladiators and Steelheads will return to the Arena at Gwinnett Center once again on Sunday at 4:05 p.m.
The Gladiators are the ECHL affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes of the National Hockey League and play home games at the 11,355-seat Arena at Gwinnett Center, located just off I-85 on Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth. The ECHL is the Premier "AA" League.