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Mulherin scores winner for Gladiators

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Bruce Mulherin potted his first professional goal to lead the Gwinnett Gladiators past Columbia 3-2 on Friday at the Carolina Coliseum.

After surrendering the first goal, the Gladiators scored three straight and held onto the lead to snap a four-game winless streak.

Gwinnett rookie goaltender Dave Caruso made 32 saves en route to his third victory of the season.

Columbia beat the Roswell native once in the first period (on a breakaway by Chris St. Jacques) and once with less than nine minutes left in regulation (on a shot from the slot by Mac Faulkner). But in between, the Gladiators lit the lamp three times and it was enough to get past the also slumping Inferno.

Gwinnett defenseman Jim Jackson tied the game at 1 with his third goal of the season, finishing off a 2-on-1 short-handed rush. Mike Vigilante dug the puck off the boards and pushed it along to Andy Contois, who fed Jackson on the breakaway. Jackson beat Columbia goalie Robert Gherson at 14:33 of the second period.

The Gladiators took a 2-1 lead on Colton Fretter's 10th tally of the year. Fretter, October's ECHL Rookie of the Month, walked into the slot and beat Gherson with a snapshot from 20 feet. Brad Schell and Jon Awe collected the assists on the go-ahead power-play goal for Gwinnett.

Mulherin, a rookie out of the University of Alabama-Huntsville, scored the game-winner by picking up a loose puck along the left-wing faceoff circles and beating Gherson with 9:34 left in the third. Jamie Milam and Bryan Dobek, who was signed to fill in for some injured players and met the team in Columbia, assisted on the goal.

Columbia cut the lead to 3-2 hardly more than a minute later, but it wasn't enough to beat Gwinnett, which improved to 7-2-3 with the win.

The Inferno were held scoreless on 11 power-play chances and dropped to 3-6-4.