COLUMBIA, S.C. - A day after losing four players to callups, the Gwinnett Gladiators posted their ninth straight win, smoking Columbia 6-0 on Friday night.
Sean Fields made 22 saves to earn his third shutout of the season and Matt York scored his first professional hat trick to lead the Gladiators.
Playing without All-Stars Troy Milam and Guillaume Desbiens, Gwinnett buckled down defensively in the first period and skated to a scoreless tie at the Carolina Coliseum.
York, a rookie defenseman that has played forward for the Gladiators lately, scored just his second goal of the season at 11:44 of the second period. York picked up a loose puck in the slot and ripped a snap shot through the legs of Inferno goalie Jani Hurme.
What proved to be the game-winner was just the start for York and Gwinnett, which leads its division and conference with a 32-9-5 record.
York potted his second of the game unassisted at 14:33, corralling another loose puck and firing the puck to the far post past Hurme.
Up 2-0 after two periods, the Gladiators quickly added two more in the first five minutes of the third to throttle Columbia.
Milan Gajic pushed Gwinnett's lead to 3-0 with his 17th goal of the season. He picked up a rebound in the slot and scored into an empty net as Hurme was still down making the original save. Jeff Campbell and Lane Manson got the assists on the goal at 2:42 of the third period.
Jeff Dwyer gave the Gladiators a 4-0 lead with his third goal of the season, beating Hurme with a slap shot from the left-wing point. The goal came at the 4:02 mark of the third period with assists to York and Cam Brown.
Derek Nesbitt pushed his point-getting streak to nine games with a goal on the power play at 11:11 of the third period. Brad Schell and Brown collected the assists on the man advantage, setting up Nesbitt in the high slot for the goal.
York completed his hat trick with the Gladiators' sixth goal of the night at 11:46 of the third period on the power play.
Gwinnett stays in the Palmetto State for a game in Charleston, S.C., at 7:05 p.m. tonight and returns home Sunday to play Trenton.