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Numbers game: Gladiators face four in five

DULUTH - Already a bit shorthanded, the Gwinnett Gladiators could lose another key cog this week - and just in time for a stretch of four games in five days.

Head coach Jeff Pyle expects the Gladiators' American Hockey League affiliate in Chicago to call up a forward, probably Guillaume Desbiens, after Gwinnett's game tonight in Greenville.

Brad Schell, who was brought up for the first time by the Wolves on Saturday, was involved in a car crash on Tuesday in Chicago. Schell was a passenger when another vehicle struck the car on his side.

The 21-year-old was not seriously injured, but is sore and the Wolves have his status listed as day-to-day. So it's likely Desbiens, who leads the Gladiators in goals and is under an Atlanta Thrashers contract, will be called up.

Pyle has already moved two defensemen, Steve Slaton and Matt York, to forward to cover for other callups and is looking at bringing in another body in the near future.

"I'm trying to mix and match and find things that will work," Pyle said. "Just kind of reenergize and keep them focused for a little while, because if we can finish strong before the All-Star break, we're in pretty good shape."

The Gladiators (21-7-4) moved into a tie for first place in the ECHL's South Division when they rallied to beat Greenville 2-1 on Tuesday and Florida lost to Fresno. Both teams have 46 points and the Everblades have played one more game.

Gwinnett, though, is probably lucky to be tied since the team didn't play very well against Greenville - the same team they face tonight on the road and again Friday at home.

"In the end, it's my fault," Pyle said. "I didn't have them prepared. Greenville outworked us, I thought, in a lot of phases. We didn't match their energy early. We were bad in our systems. We didn't have a lot of commitment.

"(Tuesday) night we probably shouldn't have (won). But the guys, they find a way, I give them credit."

After the home-and-home with Greenville, Charlotte is here for a Saturday date at the Arena at Gwinnett Center. The team gets a day off Sunday before playing a 12:30 p.m. Martin Luther King Jr. Day matinee Monday against Columbia at home.

The Gladiators round out their run to the All-Star break with a pair of road games next weekend.

Note: Goaltender Tuomas Tarkki, who started the season in Gwinnett, was signed to a standard player contract by Chicago on Wednesday. Tarkki, a rookie out of Northern Michigan University, was under a 25-game player tryout offer. The 25-year-old leads Chicago in wins and has posted a 6-3-3 record this season. Tarkki played two games for the Gladiators before being called up by Chicago.