When the Gwinnett Gladiators got down 4-1 in the second period of Saturday's game in Columbia, head coach Jeff Pyle mentally shrugged his shoulders.
It was the fourth game in five days and the Gladiators had won the first three playing with a short bench all week. So a loss in the Carolina Coliseum's cramped confines wasn't the end of the world.
Then the Inferno scored on themselves - but there was only about six minutes left in regulation. Four straight wins looked a lot more doable when converted defenseman Steve Slaton made it 4-3 at 17:14.
With goalie Sean Fields pulled for the extra attacker, Gwinnett (11-5-3) tied it up to force overtime - it was enough to make Pyle greedy.
"Now you're going, 'Well, why not win it?'" Pyle said on Monday as the Gladiators prepared to play another four games in five days.
Columbia needed eight rounds to beat the Gladiators in a shootout and Gwinnett finished a tough week 3-0-1, earning seven of a possible eight points.
"We'll take that," Pyle said. "Now you've got the chance, and I told them, we win (today) and you're guaranteed first place, tied at worst.
"Right now, I think that's what we need, we need the motivation of a bone being there for us to go after."
The Inferno, who are tied with Florida for the division lead with 26 points, play tonight at the Arena at Gwinnett Center, where the Gladiators are 7-1-2. Gwinnett hits the road for two games (Pensacola on Wednesday and Greenville on Friday) before finishing the big week at home vs. never-before-seen Toledo.
Friday's game is another important division matchup. Greenville is tied with Gwinnett for second in the standings, though both Columbia and the Grrrrowl have played three more games than the Gladiators.
"I'm OK with what we've got," said Pyle, who reorganized the lines after losing the team's top two scorers, Chris Durno and Scott Kelman, to callups. "We might get Scotty Kelman back after a couple of days. I don't know what's going to happen with Durns.
"But for us playing four games in five nights, I thought we brought it pretty well. There's a lot of potential on this team."
Eight straight for Desbiens
Guillaume Desbiens picked up an assist for the Gladiators in Saturday's 5-4 shootout loss to Columbia, extending his point scoring streak to eight games. Desbiens has four goals and 10 assists for 14 points during his streak. The rookie is one game shy of tying Durno's season-high, nine-game point scoring streak.
Pelletier takes over lead
Pascal Pelletier, playing on a red-hot line with Desbiens and Jeff Campbell, posted his 13th and 14th goals of the season for the Gladiators in last Thursday's 4-3 win at Charlotte. With the tallies, he passed Durno for the team lead in goals scored and leads the Gladiators in scoring with 25 points.
Defenseman Matt York lit the lamp for the first time as a professional in the Gladiators' 4-3 win over the Checkers last week. York now has a goal and four assists in 12 games this season for the Gladiators.
Josh Bennett then picked up his first goal and assist of the season in Saturday's shootout with the Columbia Inferno.
See Lord Stanley's Cup
The Stanley Cup will be at the Arena at Gwinnett Center tonight as part of the NHL's effort to raise money for hurricane relief in Beaumont, Texas, and Biloxi, Miss., where two ECHL teams were forced to suspend operations for the year.