The Gwinnett Gladiators overcame a 3-1 second period deficit to knock off the Columbia Inferno 5-4 on Saturday night at the Carolina Coliseum in Columbia, South Carolina as Scott Mifsud posted the game winner with a little over five minutes left in the final period.
Brad Schell, in his first game back with the Gladiators after being assigned from the Chicago Wolves, wasted no time giving Gwinnett an early 1-0 lead. On the power play, Troy Milam fed Schell at the top of the left wing face off circle where the Scott, Saskatchewan native ripped a slapshot to the near post past Columbia netminder Jani Hurme.
Columbia tied the game at 1-1 on the power play on a goal by Jeff Smith. Sliding into the slot all alone, Smith whipped a snapshot past Gladiators netminder Sean Fields for the goal with just one second left in the Columbia power play.
Gary Gladue gave the Inferno their first lead of the night at the 11:38 mark of the first period with Columbia's second power play goal of the game. Gladue beat Fields with a slapshot from the right side after being set up by Andy Berg.
Columbia pushed their lead to 3-1 on a goal by Derek Campbell 5:20 into the second period.
Gwinnett cut the lead to 3-2 on a breakaway goal by Milan Gajic just 1:44 later. Tapping the puck past a Columbia defenseman at the Gladiators blue line, Gajic ripped a snap shot over the shoulder of Hurme for the unassisted tally at 6:54 of the second period.
Jeff Campbell's 18th goal of the season on the power play tied the game at three late in the second period. Trying to clear the puck across the crease to a waiting Derek Nesbitt parked on the far post, Campbell's pass deflected off of Hurme and into the back of the net for the goal. Schell and Nesbitt picked up the assists on the goal for the Gladiators.
Columbia regained the lead with a goal on a 2-on-1 as F.P. Guenette finished the play as he took a pass from Bernier on the break and beat Fields for the tally. The goal came 8:49 into the third period as Derek Campbell also had an assist on the goal.
Gwinnett tied the game at four on Guillaume's Desbiens' 19th goal of the season. Parked in the slot, Desbiens was able to connect with a bouncing puck in the slot and bat it behind Hurme for the tally. Desbiens scored the goal unassisted for Gwinnett at 9:38 of the third period. Scott Misfud scored the game winner at 14:49 of the third period streaking in from the left wing circle and poking a lose puck past Hurme for his 11th goal of the season. Cam Brown and Adam Smyth picked up the assists on the goal.
Fields made 28 saves for the Gladiators who improve to 25-9-5 on the season in the win. Both teams scored twice on the man advantage in the Gladiators win. Gwinnett now leads the season series against the Inferno with a 5-0-1 record.
The Gwinnett Gladiators continue the 2005-06 ECHL season at the Arena at Gwinnett Center at they host the Columbia Inferno on Sunday, January 29th at 4:05 p.m.