Gladiators' 2014-15 Season in Review
DULUTH, Ga. - The Gladiators (20-45-3-4) closed out the 2014-15 season with a 5-1 loss in Greenville on Saturday, but that score belies the fact that the Gladiators were playing their best hockey with a revamped roster down the stretch. The team had picked up at least a point in three of their final five games. Eight of the final 12 games of the season were determined by just one goal. And entering Saturday night's game, the Gladiators special teams were clicking; the power play had converted in nine of the previous 11 games (10/38, a 26.3% rate), and the team had killed 14 of their last 16 penalties over a six-game stretch (87.5% rate).
Looking Back - Notable Games
Friday, October 24th - Wheeling 0, Gwinnett 5 - Glads Get Shutout in Home Debut
The Gladiators came out firing on all cylinders, shutting down the Wheeling Nailers 5-0 in front of a crowd of 4,885 in their home opener at The Arena at Gwinnett Center. Mark Guggenberger was a perfect 25-for-25 in net for the shutout. Casey Pierro-Zabotel had two goals in the game, while Brenden Walker came away with three assists. Eight Gladiators came away with points, while three had multiple points (Eric Springer being the other).
Wednesday, October 29th - Orlando 4, Gwinnett 5 (OT) - Overtime Win #1
At 12:22 of the third period, Jordon Southorn, making his Gwinnett debut, scored his first of the season to give the Gladiators a 4-2 lead. However, the Solar Bears fought back hard, and Gleason Fournier scored two quick goals in the waning minutes of the third period at 15:26 and 19:22. In the extra frame, it was Southorn who ended the night with just 50.9 seconds remaining in overtime, tucking in his step-up wrister just underneath the crossbar.
Saturday, November 8th - Florida 2, Gwinnett 3 - Three Unanswered Goals Lead to Win
With the Gladiators trailing 2-0 late in the second, Garry Nunn started the comeback with a rocket one-timer through the slot, off the stick of Marshall Everson, and past Daniel Altshuller at 14:52. Just minutes later, the Gladiators tied-up the game at 17:50 after J.P. Labardo received the puck just above the slot from Anthony Perdicaro. On a brilliant spin move, Labardo sent a bullet into the net. Gwinnett took the lead in the third period off a misplay in the neutral zone. Casey Pierro-Zabotel picked the puck off of an Everblades player, and threaded the pass off to a wide-open Brenden Walker just outside the far side of crease, and he buried the winning goal into the net under the crossbar.
Sunday, November 9th - Gwinnett 4, South Carolina 2 - Greg Carey Puts on a Power Display
Greg Carey supplied the only offense the Gladiators needed as the rookie put up his first four ECHL goals in one game. Carey achieved the natural hat trick at 3:13 of the third period, and then added the empty net insurance goal at 19:17. He became just the fourth Gladiator to achieve either the natural hat trick or the four-goal game, and just the second in team history to do both in the same game.
Tuesday, December 9th - Gwinnett 4, Toledo 3 (OT) - Overtime Win #2 in Brandt's Coaching Debut
It took 24 seconds of overtime for the Gladiators' #24 to seal Gwinnett's victory against the Toledo Walleye in the head coaching debut of Andy Brandt, Tuesday night in Toledo. Bobby Hughes nailed a goal and an assist in his return to action in over a month-and-a-half, and Tristin Llewellyn also tallied a goal and assist in Gwinnett's 4-3 OT win.
Friday, January 2nd - Elmira 0, Gwinnett 4 - Domingue Picks Up the Shutout
The Gladiators opened the New Year with a dominating win, as well as their second shutout of the season, beating the Elmira Jackals, 4-0. Louis Domingue recorded a shutout, while Casey Pierro-Zabotel and Garry Nunn both tallied a goal and an assist. Domingue would go on to make his NHL debut at the end of the month for the Arizona Coyotes, becoming the first Gladiator in six seasons to play in the NHL in the same season as his time in Gwinnett.
Saturday, January 17th - Gwinnett 7, Florida 2 - Glads Slam the Everblades for Largest Win of the Year
The Gladiators picked up arguably their most impressive win of the season Saturday night in the home arena of one of the best teams in the ECHL, the Florida Everblades, 7-2. Brenden Walker notched two goals, while Sean Berkstresser had a goal and two assists. In all, nine of the Gladiators' 18 skaters picked up points on the night.
Friday, January 23rd - Florida 5, Gwinnett 7 - Carey's Second Hat Trick Fuels Gwinnett's Five-Goal Third
Wearing their extremely popular Flames alternate jerseys for the first time ever, the Gladiators put on quite the show Friday night, defeating the Florida Everblades, 7-5, and for the second time in as many matchups, scored seven goals against the East Division leaders. Greg Carey got his second hat trick of the season as well as an assist, J.P. Labardo scored two goals, and Casey Pierro-Zabotel tallied three assists. Coming into this game, the Gladiators were 0-16-0-1 in games where they trailed going into the third period, but with a five-goal third period spectacle, the home team was able to come back in a big way to win.
Saturday, January 24th - Florida 3, Gwinnett 4 (OT) - OT Win #3, Pierro-Zabotel Grabs GWT's Second Straight Hat Trick
For the second straight night against the division-leading Florida Everblades, the Gladiators, achieved a hat trick on the way to their 4-3 overtime victory. Casey Pierro-Zabotel got the hat trick and 300th point in the overtime game-winner, Zach Yuen scored a goal in his first game as a Gladiator, and Garry Nunn picked up two assists. It was the second time in Gwinnett history that two Gladiators achieved a hat trick on back-to-back nights.
Sunday, February 22nd - Gwinnett 0, Toledo 12 - Worst Loss in Gladiators History
Four days after the longest bus ride in team history (24 straight hours), and at the tail-end of a three straight one-goal games against two of the better teams in the league - Kalamazoo and Fort Wayne - the Gladiators came out flat Sunday against the Toledo Walleye, posting their worst result in team history, a 12-0 drubbing at the hands of the second-best team in the East. Justin Mercier had a hat trick, along with two assists and a +5 rating, Anthony Luciani had two goals and three assists, Alden Hirschfeld was a +7 on a goal and five assists, and Jeff Lerg posted the 24-save shutout. All but one skater for Toledo posted a plus rating, while every Gladiator had a negative rating.
Saturday, February 28th - Gwinnett 3, Orlando 5 - Madness at the Amway Center
Leading 3-1 late in the second period, the Gladiators had their momentum stunted thanks to two full-ice brawls within a minute of each other. Geoff Paukovich and Scott Tanski got things started with a fight after a save by Mark Guggenberger. The fight escalated to a full-ice scrum, and then as things were calming back down and the referees were sorting out the penalties, goaltender Garret Sparks challenged Mark Guggenberger from across the ice. Before the two could meet, Dyson Stevenson came darting through the zone to meet him and the two engaged in one of the more passionate fights this season. That led to ejections for Stevenson and Sparks, and things weren't done yet.
A minute later, at 17:10, Brock Montgomery crashed violently into Guggenberger on a save attempt. Montgomery lowered his shoulder through Guggenberger, tackling him to the ice and leading to a second set of brawling. Patrick MacGregor pulled Montgomery back to the boards, while Alexandre Carrier and Carl Nielsen tried to start separate fights to coax Guggenberger into an ejection situation. The Gwinnett goaltender kept his cool, while MacGregor, Carrier, and Nielsen earned ejections for themselves. For starting the fighting and barreling into Guggenberger, Montgomery was punished with two five minute majors and a game misconduct.
In all, 152 penalty minutes were called between the two teams, with Orlando totaling almost two thirds of that - 97 minutes. Six players were ejected for their roles in the fights, four of them being Solar Bears, including Garret Sparks, who was ejected twice, once from the ice, and again for going into the stands to yell at the Gladiators in the third period.
Saturday, March 14th - Gwinnett 0, South Carolina 6 - Stingrays Set ECHL Consecutive Wins Record
The South Carolina Stingrays broke a seven-year-old ECHL record on Saturday night by winning their 18th consecutive game, a 6-0 shutout of the Gladiators, who were skating four players short. Jeff Jakaitis shut out his former team for the third consecutive game with a 21-save performance, while Marcus Perrier scored four goals and added an assist.
Friday, March 27th - Orlando 3, Gwinnett 4 (OT) - Overtime Win #4
Back on the winning side of things, the newly refurbished Gladiators bested the Solar Bears in overtime on Friday night, 4-3. Jeff Silengo scored the winning overtime goal, while Greg Carey tallied a goal and an assist and Mike Merrifield scored his first goal this season. It was the team's first win after a hectic trading deadline that saw the Gladiators ship out their top four scorers and their starting goaltender in exchange for three players, eight future considerations, and the signing of two players off of waivers and four skaters fresh out of college.
Wednesday, April 8th - Evansville 2, Gwinnett 3 (OT) - Murovich Notches OT Win #5 in Gladiators Home Finale
In their final home game of the season, the Gladiators made a spectacular comeback in front of their home crowd one last time, to take the overtime win against the Evansville IceMen, 3-2. Fan favorite Tyler Murovich scored the game-winning goal and tallied an assist, while Dan O'Donoghue and Mike Merrifield both added goals as the Gladiators scored three unanswered goals in the third and overtime.
Italics - no longer on Gladiators roster
Gladiators' Offensive Leaders - Goals
1. Casey Pierro-Zabotel - 23
2. Brenden Walker - 15
2. Greg Carey - 15
4. Garry Nunn - 13
5. Sean Berkstresser, Will MacDonald, J.P. Labardo, Jason Wilson - 10
Gladiators' Offensive Leaders - Assists
1. Casey Pierro-Zabotel - 37
2. Garry Nunn - 31
3. Brenden Walker - 27
4. Joe Stejskal - 18
5. Zach Yuen - 14
Gladiators' Offensive Leaders - Points
1. Casey Pierro-Zabotel - 60
2. Garry Nunn - 44
3. Brenden Walker - 42
4. Greg Carey - 27
5. Zach Yuen - 23
Gladiators' Offensive Leaders - Rookie Scoring
1. Greg Carey - 15/12/27
2. Brock Higgs - 6/12/18
3. J.P. Labardo - 10/7/17
4. Bo Dolan - 4/10/14
5. Nathan Burns - 3/7/10
Gladiators' Offensive Leaders - +/- 1. Eric Springer - +5
2. Joe Stejskal - +5
3. Bretton Stamler - +4
4. Jordon Southorn - +3
5. Joel Hanley - +2
Gladiators' Offensive Leaders - PIM
1. Sean Berkstresser - 105
2. Dyson Stevenson - 104
3. Bo Dolan - 91
4. Jason Wilson - 88
5. Patrick MacGregor, Anthony Perdicaro - 72
Gladiators' Goaltending Leaders - Minutes
1. Mark Guggenberger - 1264
2. Kent Patterson - 1060 (1964, season total)
3. Mike Lee - 999
4. Adam Brown - 838
5. Louis Domingue - 119
Gladiators' Goaltending Leaders - Wins
1. Mark Guggenberger - 6
2. Adam Brown - 5
3. Kent Patterson - 4 (9, season total)
3. Mike Lee - 4
5. Louis Domingue - 1
Gladiators' Goaltending Leaders - Shutouts
1. Mark Guggenberger - 1
1. Louis Domingue - 1
1. Kent Patterson - 1 (season total)
Gladiators' Goaltending Leaders - GAA (Minimum 2 GP)
1. Louis Domingue - 1.01
2. Mark Guggenberger - 3.46
3. Mike Lee - 3.54
4. Kent Patterson - 3.57 (3.36, season total)
5. Adam Brown - 3.58
Gladiators' Goaltending Leaders - SV% (Minimum 2 GP)
1. Louis Domingue - .958
2. Kent Patterson - .897 (.899, season total)
3. Mike Lee - .893
4. Mark Guggenberger - .893
5. Adam Brown - .892
Putting in the Extra Time: Gwinnett's five overtime victories were second-most in the league this season, only behind the Colorado Eagles, Indy Fuel, and Wichita Thunder (six). It was also the second-most OTW total in team history; only the 2009-10 Gladiators (six) had more.
All-Americans: Twelve players - Mike Lee (POR), Greg Carey (POR), Dan O'Donoghue (POR), Joel Hanley (POR), Louis Domingue (POR), Jordon Southorn (POR), James Melindy (POR), Dyson Stevenson (POR/BRI), Bretton Stamler (HFD), Casey Pierro-Zabotel (NOR), Joe Stejskal (IAW), and Kent Patterson (OKC) - spent time in the AHL this year. In all, the 12 Gladiators AHL players played in 179 AHL games, and missed a total of 285 Gwinnett games.
CPZ, GWT MVP: Casey Pierro-Zabotel had an offensively dominant year for the Gladiators, registering 60 points in just 54 games played. His 23 goals and 37 assists were both tops on the team, and at the time he was traded to the Florida Everblades before the trading deadline, Pierro-Zabotel led all Eastern Conference skaters in scoring. Pierro-Zabotel had two separate six-game point streaks during the season, including a blistering stretch from January 23rd to the 31st when he scored six goals and six assists in six games, achieved his first pro hat trick on January 24th, and was named ECHL Player of the Week.
Lucky Louis: Goaltender Louis Domingue made his NHL debut on January 31st against the Ottawa Senators, and then picked up his first win on February 1st in his first every start in his hometown of Montreal. Domingue became the first Gladiator in six seasons to reach the NHL in the same season as his time in Gwinnett. He would go on to make seven appearances in all for the Coyotes.
Milestones: The following players achieved professional game milestones this season:
- Sean Berkstresser - 400 - Oct. 18th
- Mike Merrifield - 100 - Oct. 25th
- Anthony Perdicaro - 200 - Oct. 29th
- Joe Stejskal - 200 - Nov. 29th
- Eric Springer - 100 - Dec. 26th
- Tristin Llewellyn - 200 - Jan. 8th
- Brenden Walker - 100 - Feb. 15th
- C.J. Chartrain - 100 - Feb. 22nd
- Zach Yuen - 100 - Mar. 8th
Streaks: The longest Gladiators point streaks this season:
- Casey Pierro-Zabotel - six - 12/13 to 12/26, and 1/23 to 1/31
- Garry Nunn - six - 11/8 to 11/21
- Brock Higgs - five - 3/11 to 3/27
- Tristin Llewellyn - four - 12/9 to 12/14
- Greg Carey - four - 3/19 to 3/27
- Zach Yuen - three - 4/04 to 4/11
- Brenden Walker - three - 11/14 to 11/21
- Sean Berkstresser - three - 12/09 to 12/13
- Jordon Southorn - three - 12/17 to 12/21
- Will MacDonald - three - 1/10 to 1/17
- Scott Arnold - three - 3/15 to 3/21
- Tyler Murovich - three - 3/27 to 3/29
- Jeff Silengo - three - 3/27 to 3/29
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