Guggenberger Blanks Nailers, 5-0
DULUTH, Ga. - The Gladiators came out firing on all cylinders Friday night, 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).
The Gladiators (1-1-0-0) put one on the board early in the first period at 3:20 from Eric Springer's slap shot, which found its way through traffic and past Wheeling (1-1-0-0) starter Franky Palazzese. At 12:33 of the first, Garry Nunn worked the puck up the ice past the centerline, with Springer flanking up the right side. Nunn dished the puck across the front of the net where J.P. Labardo was waiting to strike, scoring his first of the season to give the Glads a 2-0 lead over the Nailers after 20 minutes.
The second period started much like the first, with the Gladiators finding the back of the net quickly. Gladiators' captain, Sean Berkstresser, scored at 4:34 after pushing the puck towards Palazzese off a miscommunication between a Nailers defenseman and the goaltender. After more strong play, Brenden Walker dished the puck to Casey Pierro-Zabotel, who was waiting with his back to the Nailers' net. With an impressive spin move, Pierro-Zabotel shot the puck directly into the goal, bringing the score to 4-0.
Pierro-Zabotel followed that tally with another, 52 seconds into the third period. Mike Merrifield quickly got the puck to Walker, who once again found Pierro-Zabotel in a very crowded net; giving him his third assist of the night. From there, it was all Guggenberger as Wheeling pummeled him for 11 shots in the final period, trying to break up the shutout.
On the opposite end, Palazzese was 10-for-14 in 40 minutes of work, while backup Jeff Wyer was three-for-four in his professional hockey debut.
The Gladiators will continue their six-game homestand on Saturday night against the Greenville Road Warriors at 7:05 p.m. Make sure to come early as the team will be handing out calendars to the first 2,000 fans inside the gates. 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.
As Atlanta's "One and Only" professional hockey team, the Gladiators have established an extraordinary winning tradition and unrivaled commitment to excellence, maintaining a distinctive reputation for affordable and family-friendly sports entertainment. The Gladiators are consistently ranked as one of the top "Things To Do" in the Atlanta area and across the North Georgia region.
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