Gladiators crush Charlotte in final meeting

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - With a staggering five power-play goals, the Gwinnett Gladiators crushed Charlotte 8-1 on Wednesday.

Four of those power-play tallies came in the second period as Gwinnett set a new season high for scoring in a period and blew the game wide open.

The Gladiators lit the lamp five times in the middle 20 minutes to take a 6-0 lead against Charlotte and cruised from there.

It was the final meeting of the year between these two teams and aside from season-opening shootout win at the Arena at Gwinnett Center, the Checkers didn't earn a point against the Gladiators.

Gwinnett, which extended its division lead to 10 points, went 8-0-1 against a Charlotte team that ousted the Gladiators from last year's playoffs.

"The boys played pretty solid in the first period and took advantage of a couple power plays in the second," Gwinnett head coach Jeff Pyle said. "Then we were smart enough not to get into anything stupid.

"I was pretty impressed with the boys. I know they were a little tired. But guys were open and we found them."

Jeff Campbell, returned from American Hockey League Lowell just in time for the game in Charlotte, opened the scoring with the only goal of the first period. Campbell was on the doorstep to jam home a power-play goal at 12:13.

Close after one period, the game took a dramatic turn in the second.

All-Star rookie Guillaume Desbiens made it 2-0 just 1:22 into the period.

Defenseman Matt York and Lane Manson scored 32 seconds apart to double that advantage and the rout was on. Manson's tally, just his second of the season, was the only even-strength marker of the period.

Scott Mifsud and Jon Awe kept up the blitzkrieg, lighting the lamp at 11:51 and with 1:28 remaining in the second, respectively. Mifsud's goal chased Glass from game, but new keeper Chris Holt didn't fare a whole lot better, giving up three more goals.

Charlotte spoiled Sean Fields' shutout bid at 6:57 of the third period, but Desbiens got it back one minute later. The Gladiators' leading goal scorer, Desbiens potted his 32nd goal of the season at 7:57. Brian Teixiera rounded out the avalanche of scoring at 11:41 of the third.

Fields made 31 saves to earn his 29th victory of the season.

"If we're smart, we can take two out of three this weekend and put a little more pressure on Florida and Greenville," Pyle said.

Gwinnett (44-12-7, 95 points) is off today, but plays three games in 24 hours starting Friday night. Pensacola rolls into town for the first part of a home-and-home Friday. Tthe Gladiators visit the Ice Pilots on Saturday and finish up with a Sunday matinee at home against South Carolina.

Campbell won't be in the lineup - he returned to Lowell this morning - but the younger brother of defenseman Troy Milam could be here. Pyle said he was planning on bringing Jamie Milam down from Northern Michigan University for the weekend.