Gladiators Shut Out Checkers, 4-0; Lead Playoff Series 1-0
Craig Kowalski stopped all 27 shots he faced and Matt Anderson, Tomas Pospisil and Mike Hamilton all tallied a goal and an assist as the Gwinnett Gladiators shut out the Charlotte Checkers by a score of 4-0 Tuesday night at the Arena at Gwinnett center. Gwinnett opens the 2008 Kelly Cup playoffs with a win and goes to 1-0 on the playoffs and leads the best of five Division Quarterfinal series 1-game-to-none.
For Kowalski, the shutout was simply a continuation of his domination of the Checkers in the playoffs that started last season when the Clinton Township, MI native was with the Florida Everblades. In fact, the last time Kowalski faced the Checkers in the postseason, on April 17 of last season, the result was the same. In that game, Kowalski made 32 saves and collected the 4-0 win.
Tuesday night, Gwinnett was able to get on the board in the first stanza with an even-strength goal from Matt Anderson with about 2 minutes left in the first period. With Gwinnett coming out of a shorthanded situation, Chad Painchaud picked up a loose puck in the Gwinnett zone and weaved through traffic in the neutral zone. Crossing the Charlotte blue line, Painchaud dropped the puck off to Anderson whose shot clipped a Charlotte defender and rolled down the back of Checkers goaltender Chris Holt and into the Charlotte net. Painchaud picked up the helper on the goal which put Gwinnett up by a 1-0 margin which would turn out to be all Gwinnett needed for the win.
Tomas Pospisil added a goal for the Gladiators at the 4:14 mark of the second period. After Mike Hamilton picked up a puck in the Charlotte zone, he flicked an outlet pass to Pospisil all alone in the neutral zone. Pospisil walked across the blue line and through the Charlotte zone and flicked a shot at Holt that bounced off the Checkers net-minder's chest and had just enough steam left to trickle through the five-hole for the Gwinnett marker. Hamilton picked up the assist on the goal as Gwinnett went up 2-0 on Pospisil's first goal of this postseason.
Gwinnett added another goal at the 11:35 mark of the period. This time, Brad Schell got in on the act with his first marker of the postseason. After a Scott Marchesis slap shot from the point rebounded off of Holt's pads, Jeff Campbell collected the rebound and slipped a centering pass to Schell. Schell then beat Holt to the glove side for the Gwinnett marker and the 3-0 lead. Campbell picked up an assist on the goal as well as Marchesi who can count it as his first professional point.
Less than five minutes into the third period, Gwinnett added another goal. With the Gladiators on the power play, Chad Denny took a shot from the point that rebounded off of the Charlotte goalie, Holt and rattled around in bodies in front of the Charlotte net. Eventually Mike Hamilton was able to nudge the puck over the goal line for the marker. Matt Anderson and Tomas Pospisil got assists on the play at the 4:51 mark of the third, and Gwinnett went up by four.
Gwinnett was unable to convert on a handful more scoring chances while Kowalski made some masterful saves and held on for the 4-0 Gwinnett win. Kowlaski made 27 saves in the contest and now has a 1-0-0 record in the postseason.
The Gladiators continue their fifth anniversary season with Game 2 of the 2008 Kelly Cup Playoffs on Thursday, April 10th as they host the Charlotte Checkers at the Arena at Gwinnett Center at 7:05 p.m. Catch all the play-by-play action in Thurday's game on WDUN, News Talk 550.
Celebrating its 20th Anniversary as the Premier 'AA' Hockey League in 2007-08, the ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in three states and has grown to be a coast-to-coast league that has 25 teams in 17 states and British Columbia in 2007-08. The 25 teams includes the Mississippi (Biloxi) Sea Wolves, who return after missing two seasons in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the expansion Elmira (N.Y.) Jackals. The ECHL will play 900 games beginning Oct. 18 and concluding Apr. 5.
The Gwinnett Gladiators continue their fifth season as a proud member of the ECHL - season ticket packages are on sale now. In addition, the Gladiators offer several unique multi-game ticket packages as well as discounted group rates, suite rentals, and birthday parties. For more information call 770-497-5100 or log on to gwinnettgladiators.com
The Gladiators are the AA affiliate of the Atlanta Thrashers and play all home games at the spectacular 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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