Gladiators Comeback Falls Short, 4-3
GREENVILLE, SC - The Gladiators (19-44-3-3) faced a 3-0 deficit in the first period, and then a 4-1 deficit early in the third, but nearly came all the way back Friday night against the Greenville Road Warriors (36-29-1-3). Mike Merrifield led all scorers with a goal and an assist, while Tyler Shiplo grabbed his first professional goal.
Just like Thursday night's game, the Road Warriors opened the scoring early in the first. Emerson Clark clanged one inside the right post at 6:32 to give Greenville the 1-0 lead. The Road Warriors would continue on from there, unlike last night's game.
First, it was Sam Noreau at 12:44, and then former Gladiator Dallas Jackson a few minutes thereafter at 15:57. Facing the 3-0 early deficit, the Gladiators bounced back with a goal in the waning seconds of the opening period.
Jason Wilson tallied his second goal in a Gwinnett uniform with 28 seconds left in the first. Tyler Murovich squeezed the puck out of traffic in the left corner, out to Wilson in the low circle. Jason Missiaen was completely screened in the crease, and Wilson's quick wrist shot hit the far corner before Missiaen could see the puck coming.
The Gladiators outplayed and outshot the Road Warriors in the second period, 11-to-6, but neither side was able to break through.
In the third, the Road Warriors scored first on a fluky goal from Bretton Cameron. Mike Lee went behind his net to play a dump-in, and turned the puck over to Cameron. The Greenville captain saw Paul Rodrigues rushing into the slot and tried to throw a puck towards him for an empty net goal. Instead, Murovich tried to swat the puck away, but in the process, ended up deflecting the puck into the net at 2:33 to give Greenville the 4-1 lead.
From there, it was all Gwinnett in the third. Tyler Shiplo scored his first professional goal on a nifty dangle shot at 4:17 on a brilliant feed from Justin Buzzeo in the left corner. And with Mike Lee pulled, Mike Merrifield slammed in the Gladiators' final goal from a heavily trafficked slot at 18:46 to make it 4-3.
Mike Lee picked up the loss, making 30 saves on 34 shots against, while Jason Missiaen took the win for his 27 saves on 30 shots.
The Gladiators will head back home for the team's annual Fan Appreciation Night at The Arena at Gwinnett Center against the Road Warriors on Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. The game will be broadcast on AM 550 and FM 102.9, WDUN, and www.gwinnettgladiators.com/radio, starting at 6:50 p.m.
For tickets and schedule information, visit the official team website at www.gwinnettgladiators.com or call the main office line at 770-497-5100.
The Gladiators are members of the ECHL, the nation's premier "AA" hockey league, and are affiliated with the Arizona Coyotes of the NHL. All home games are played at the 11,355-seat Arena at Gwinnett Center, located just off I-85 on Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth - where parking is always free.
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