In their first action of the New Year the Gwinnett Gladiators dropped Wednesday’s game to the Fort Wayne Komets in front of 5,429 at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum by a 4-2 count. Despite the loss the Gladiators remain in first place in the ECHL South Division with 45 points, followed by the Greenville Road Warriors with 43.
Fort Wayne (17-14-1-1) grabbed a two-goal lead in the first period when Thomas Beauregard netted the 99th and 100th goals of his ECHL career at 8:00 and 13:56. While Beauregard was taking care of the scoring, Komets netminder Marco Cousineau (W, 2-1-0-0 with a 3.28 GAA) stopped all eight shots he faced and after the first 20 minutes of hockey the Gladiators were trailing the home club 2-0.
Gwinnett (22-12-1-0) cut the deficit to one when Evan Bloodoff beat Cousineau with a backhander after a one-on-one break. The unassisted lamplighter came at 14:19 and was the rookie’s 12th tally of the season. The Gladiators then tied the game with only 8.6 seconds left in the period when Cody Brookwell found the back of the net for his second goal of the season. Alex Belzile made a perfect pass to set up the goal, while Scott Arnold picked up the second assist. Gladiator goalie Louis Domingue (L, 10-3-0-0 with a 2.75 GAA) held the Komets scorless in the middle period, and the second intermission came with the teams locked in a 2-2 contest.
Both defenses were solid in the final period and the score remain unchanged until Corey Elkins, in his Fort Wayne debut, got the puck through Domingue’s legs at 16:01 to give the Komets a 3-2 advantage. Kaleigh Schrock then scored an empty-netter with 33 seconds left in the game after Coach Wroblewski had pulled Domingue for an extra attacker.
The loss is just Domingue’s second in his last 12 starts, while Cousineau, making his first start since November 3rd, picks up the win- his second in four starts with Fort Wayne.
In a nearly penalty free game Gwinnett (2 inf. / 4 PIM) was 0-for-1 on the power play, while Fort Wayne (1 inf. / 2 PIM) was 0-for-2.
This was the final of five regular season meetings between the clubs, with the Komets taking the series three games to the Glads two.
First Star: FW - 82 Thomas Beauregard (2 goals)
Second Star: FW - 17 Luca Caputi (3 assists)
Third Star: FW - 61 Nick Schaus (defenseman)
Division leading Gwinnett returns home to play the South Carolina Stingrays on Friday at 7:35p.m, while the second place Greenville Road Warriors will be at home against the Florida Everblades.
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.