Glads Fall to Royals 2-1
Saturday, February 22, 2014
DULUTH, Ga. - The Gwinnett Gladiators fell Saturday night in a physical, penalty-filled contest 2-1 to the Reading Royals in front of 10,880 fans at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.
The game began with a wild first twenty minutes as both sides scrapped frequently for a total of 25 penalty minutes. Before things got contentious, however, Gwinnett hammered in a power play goal on their very first shot of the game at 3:27. Rob Kwiet one-timed a pass to the far faceoff circle from Jonathan Narbonne to give the Gladiators a 1-0 lead.
A little under three minutes later, the action boiled over when Jesse Todd bowled over Gwinnett goaltender Mathieu Corbeil on a partial breakaway. The Gladiators stood up for their goaltender as each player lined up with a Royal counterpart for a short scrum, but despite the initial infringement from Todd, Kwiet was called for a matching minor, and both sides skated 4-on-4 for the moment.
Seconds later, Matt Clune streaked down the opposite way and contested a rebound on Brandon Anderson. This time, Reading took exception with the play and another line brawl was instigated. When the smoke lifted, Clune was called for a five minute major while Evan Bloodoff, Brett Flemming, and Bryant Molle were called for matching minors.
Following 3-on-3 and then 4-on-4 play, Reading had a three minute extended power play, but the Gladiators held the Royals scoreless for that stretch. Unfortunately, Corbeil had to leave the game after stretching to make a save during that penalty kill. Back-up goalie Nick Niedert, who arrived in Duluth a few hours before game time, filled in for the 22-year-old Montreal-native.
In the second, emotions still ran high for both sides as 15 more penalties were called. Flemming struck for a goal at 3:09 as he crossed over the offensive blue line, tucking his shot under Niedert’s left arm. The period was dominated by unsportsmanlike penalties – five – while there were three 10-minute misconducts called, two for Gwinnett and one for Reading.
The third period was a return to calmer sides for the two teams, but the Royals potted what would prove to be the game-winning goal on a point shot through a screen by Michal Cajkovsky. That would hold up as the game-winner, as Anderson turned aside 32 Gwinnett shots. Niedert was brilliant in relief for the Gladiators, making 35 saves in a little over 48 minutes.
The Gladiators wrap up Puck Dynasty Weekend Sunday at 2:05 p.m., as they host South Division rival South Carolina at the Arena at Gwinnett Center. To purchase tickets, please visit 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 Phoenix 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.
For all the latest team news, contests, and more visit GwinnettGladiators.com, or “like” the Gladiators on Facebook (www.facebook.com/GwinnettGladiators), and follow the team on Twitter (www.twitter.com/GWTGladiators).
Photo Credit: Dale Zanine