DULUTH - The Gwinnett Gladiators lost at home in regulation for just the second time all season, falling to Greenville 4-1 on Friday in front of 4,897 at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.
The Gladiators last loss here was Nov. 18 - to this same Greenville team. It was the third straight game between these two teams and the second in as many days. The Gladiators rallied Thursday in Greenville to wrangle a shootout loss, but collapsed down the stretch on Friday night as the Grrrowl's John Marks tied a league record with his 878th ECHL game coached.
"We, uh, we just were bad today," Gwinnett head coach Jeff Pyle said. "We didn't play as a team. It was 18 individuals tonight. We didn't move the puck well.
"Guys were a little tired, but that's not an excuse. We had opportunities, we just didn't get it done. We were way too selfish."
Greenville was being outshot by a 2-to-1 margin in the third period, but began getting good pressure on goalie Sean Fields with about five minutes left in a tie game.
That perseverance paid off when Rory McMahon tucked a rebound off the end boards just inside the right-hand post. McMahon's 13th goal of the season gave Greenville a 2-1 lead with 4:47 remaining in regulation and a power-play goal in the final two minutes sealed the deal.
An empty netter capped the scoring at 19:20.
"We're not good as individuals and it showed tonight," Pyle said.
The Gladiators (21-8-5, 47 points) play again tonight at home against Charlotte and round out this stretch of four games in five days Monday vs. Columbia.
"We're doing some things well, but when your tired, you've got to be simple," Pyle said. "And we weren't simple. We complicated the game probably as much as you can complicate it tonight."
Gwinnett waited until the last minute of the second period to tie the game at 1 on a gorgeous play by defenseman Troy Milam. With time running out in the period and the Gladiators down 1-0, Guillaume Desbiens fed Milan Gajic on the wing. Gajic carried it over the blue line and dished to Milam streaking up the middle.
Milam ditched the defenseman draped all over him and walked in on the goalie Mike Morrison. Milam's next move was fantastic, a deek to the right drew Morrison out of position and Milam was able to hold long enough to come back left and roof the puck at 19:43.
That was the first and last goal of the night - well below the Gladiators' league-leading average of 4.39 per game.
Note: Gwinnett was playing without rookie defenseman Jimmy Sharrow, who was called up by Chicago of the American Hockey League on Friday.
Sharrow has 10 points in 23 games for the Gladiators this season.