The Gwinnett Gladiators surrendered a third period goal that turned out to be the game winner for the visiting Florida Everblades in Friday night ECHL action at the Arena at Gwinnett Center. Gwinnett (25-15-1-1) was unable to even the score and have now lost four straight games, while Florida (19-13-3-4) has now won four in a row. The loss, combined with the Greenville Road Warriors 4-1 win over the South Carolina Stingrays, drops the Glads into second place in the South Division.
Florida took a 1-0 lead 13:23 into the first period when Mathieu Roy worked his way through the Gwinnett defense then, after falling to the ice, put a wrist shot past Glads All-Star goalie Mike Lee (L, 23 saves on 26 shots) for his 14th goal of the season. The helpers went to Aaron Bogosian and Matthew Pistilli. The first period ended with the Gladiators trailing 1-0, despite outshooting the Blades 12-7 in the period.
Jon Awe tied the game just 40 seconds into the second period when he beat Florida netminder Pat Nagle (W, 36 saves on 38 shots) for an unassisted goal, his first marker of the season. Ryan McGinnis put Florida back on top halfway through the middle period when he scored while attempting to dump the puck into the zone, but the puck came off the glass toward the Glads net and, because Lee had left the crease to play the puck behind the net, rolled in. Less than two minutes later Gwinnett evened the score 2-2 when Joey Haddad finished a 2-on-1 rush with Andy Brandt by beating Nagel for his third goal of the season. Casey Pierro-Zabotel, the Glads second All-Star, and Awe both assisted. The clubs combined for 28 shots on goal in the period (Gwinnett 15, Florida 13).
The winning goal for Florida came at 12:57 of the third period and was an unassisted marker by Brody Sutter, his third goal of the 2012-13 campaign.
Lee falls to 12-11-1-0 with the Gwinnett loss, but remains second in the league in GAA (2.13). Nagle improves to 9-5-0-1 with the Florida win while dropping his GAA to 3.28.
Gwinnett was 0-for-2 on the power play while Florida was 0-for-3. The teams totaled 10 penalty minutes on 5 infractions (GWT 6 PIM/ 3 Inf., FLA 4 PIM/ 2 Inf.)
First Star: FLA – 19 Brody Sutter (1 Goal)
Second Star: GWT – 12 Jon Awe (1 Goal, 1 Assist)
Third Star: FLA – 15 Mathieu Roy (1 Goal)
The Gladiators travel tomorrow to Greenville, SC to face the Greenville Road Warriors at the Bi-Lo Center. The Gladiators then return to the Arena at Gwinnett Center on Monday, January 21st for a rematch with the Greenville Road Warriors.
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.