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Gladiators sweep Florida

DULUTH - Chris Durno upped his goal-scoring streak to six games, Sean Fields remained undefeated and the Gwinnett Gladiators handed Florida a second straight loss Saturday night.

Durno broke up a tie game in the second period, roofing a rebound over scrambling Everblades goalie Craig Kowalski and the Gladiators collected a 3-1 win in front of 8,608 at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

Durno iced it on an empty netter in the final minute when Kowalski was pulled in favor of the extra attacker.

It was Florida's second road game and second loss. The Everblades dropped to 4-3-0 and Gwinnett improved to 5-1-1 with the back-to-back wins.

"It wasn't the most pretty win, but we're finding ways to win," Gladiators head coach Jeff Pyle said. "Florida played really well, they came back and, I thought, outworked us through the first half of the game. They weren't going to make it easy.

"That second goal by Durns was huge for us. It was one of those (tie) games, where whoever takes the lead is probably going to win it. Then I liked in the third period how we were patient. We didn't give up a lot. I told the guys, this is a good challenge - if we're a good team, we'll step up to the plate and be able to hold them."

Florida, plenty fired up before the game after losing 5-2 to Gwinnett on Friday night, took a 1-0 lead at 8:39 of the first period. Kevin Bergin, acquired in a trade just two days ago, tucked a snap shot from 35 feet out just inside the near post.

That margin lasted until late in the period when Kowalski contributed to the Gwinnett effort. Kowalski came out all the way to the faceoff circle to play the puck and tripped Gladiators centerman Scott Kelman, racing in alone. Kowalski was called for the penalty and Gwinnett scored on the power play.

Defenseman Troy Milam went coast to coast, weaving through bodies to rifle a wrister past the outstretched glove of Kowalski and tie the game 1-1. It was the first goal of the season for Milam, who led the team with six assists headed into this rematch with Florida.

Durno's sixth goal of the season came at 16:58 of the second period, and gave the Gladiators a 2-1 advantage. Kelman and defenseman John Awe picked up assists as Gwinnett pounded away at Kowalski from point-blank range.

Fields, among the ECHL's top 10 goalies, made 40 saves to surpass his season high and improve to 5-0-0.

"He did well," Pyle said. "I hope the kid gets a chance this year (in the American Hockey League). Durns falls along those lines, too. He's playing really well, scoring the big goal and doing all the little things right."

The Gladiators play again at home on Tuesday when Pensacola comes to the arena for a 7:05 p.m. game.