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Gladiators clinch division, conference

The Gwinnett Gladiators used three first-period goals and a third-period goal by Milan Gajic to clinch the ECHL's South Division and the American Conference by beating the South Carolina Stingrays 4-3 on Saturday night at the North Charleston Coliseum.

Gwinnett improved its record to 48-14-7.

Scott Mifsud broke the Gladiators power play slump as he got Gwinnett on the board on the power play 11:06 into the first period.

Mifsud corralled a rebound in front of the South Carolina net and flipped the puck past Stingrays' netminder Maxime Daigneault for the goal. Guillaume Desbiens muscled his way to the front of the net and took the initial shot to pick up an assist on the goal.

Seventy-two seconds later, Cam Brown rolled the puck through the legs of Daigneault to give the Gladiators a 2-0 lead. Daigneault wandered out of his net to knock the puck down behind the South Carolina net, but Brian Teixeira was the first player to the loose puck. He rolled it into the slot to a waiting Brown for the goal.

Danny Eberly got credit for Gwinnett's third goal of the game, coming 62 seconds after Brown's tally. Daigneault made the initial save on Eberly's shot from the point but the puck bounced off a Stingrays defenseman and into the South Carolina net for the Gwinnett goal.

The unassisted tally was Eberly's eighth of the year and came at the 13:20 mark of the first period.

South Carolina got on the board 32 seconds into the second period as Matt Reid clanked the puck off the post, but the rebound hit Gladiators netminder Sean Fields in the mask and bounced into the back of the net for the goal. Cail MacLean and Scott Romfo had the assists on the shorthanded marker.

Robin Gomez got the Stingrays within a goal at the 14:17 mark, ripping a snap shot past Fields from the slot for the marker. Craig Olynick and Ryan Finnerty had the assists on the goal.

Milan Gajic pushed the Gladiators lead back to two goals with his 24th marker of the season, putting a loose puck over the shoulder of Daigneault for the tally. Derek Nesbitt collected an assist on the goal, as he went wheeling around the Stingrays' net before feeding Gajic in the slot.

Matt York also got credit for the goal at the 15:25 mark of the second period.

South Carolina again got within a goal by beating Fields 31 seconds into the third period. Darren Lynch finished a 2-on-1 break with Anders Strome sliding the puck past Fields for the tally.

The Stingrays could get no closer in the final period as they pulled Daigneault for the extra attacker with more than a minute remaining.

Fields finished with 26 saves for the Gladiators as Gwinnett went 1-for-7 on the power play breaking a two-game drought on the man advantage.

The Gladiators will host the Florida Everblades at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday.