The Gwinnett Gladiators lost both games of a weekend set against the Florida Everblades in an ECHL South Division matchup played at The Arena at Gwinnett Center. The Gladiators dropped Saturday’s game 4-3 despite out-shooting the Everblades 41-19, and then lost the Sunday afternoon contest by a 3-1 count after out-shooting Florida 40-25.
Despite the back-to-back losses Gwinnett (32-21-2-1) finishes the weekend atop the South Division with 67 points. The Greenville Road Warriors (30-18-2-3/65 points) trail by only two points, while Florida (27-17-4-5/63 points) has pulled to within four points of Gwinnett. The South Carolina Stingrays (28-23-2-3/61 points) and Orlando Solar Bears (23-26-2-3/51 points) round out the division.
Florida goalie Rob Madore was between the pipes for both games and blocked 77-of-81 shots while improving his season record to 10-10-3-0 and lowering his goals-against-average to 3.18. With both Mike Lee (14-11-1-0, 2.23 GGA) and Louis Domingue (16-8-1-1, 2.94 GAA) being recalled to the American Hockey League, Nick Niedert made his first two starts for Gwinnett. The 31-year old made a start on October 27 for the Reading Royals and made 20 saves on 22 shots before losing in a shootout. Niedert finished the weekend 0-2-0-0 with a 3.03 GAA and a save percentage of .860.
The Gladiators were lead by All-Star Casey Pierro-Zabotel with three points (1 G, 2 A). The Ashcroft, British Columbia native leads the ECHL in scoring with 62 points (17 G, 45 A) and has a +18 rating for the season. Evan Bloodoff (1 G, 1 A, +1) and Doug Jones (2 A) each contributed two points.
Florida was lead by Leigh Salters (2 G, +1), Matthew Pistilli (2 G, +4) and Corey Trivino (1 G, 1A, +3).
Gwinnett continues to have trouble finding the back of the net on the power play. The Glads were 1-of-8 against Florida in the two-game set after going 1-of-8 in Friday’s game against Wheeling. For the 2012-13 campaign Gwinnett has a 15.1 PP%, 19th in the league in that category. The club has been successful at penalty killing 83.5 percent of the time, good for 9th in the ECHL.
The losses give Gwinnett a 0.583 winning percentage (16-11-2-1) at The Arena at Gwinnett Center, worst home percentage in the South and 15th of 23 teams in the ECHL.
The Glads will play their next nine games on the road before returning to the Arena to finish the regular season by playing six of their final seven games at home.
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.