ESTERO, Fla. - Firing shots on goal Friday night wasn't a problem for the Florida Everblades. Firing shots past 6-foot-6, 220-pound goalie Dan Turple was a big one.
The Everblades fell to the Gwinnett Gladiators 4-2 in front of 6,544 at Germain Arena despite registering more than twice as many shots on goal as their opponent. Florida outshot the Gladiators 38-18 as Gwinnett ended its three-game losing skid.
The result also snapped the Everblades' four-game winning streak and closed the race for second place in the ECHL South Division. Florida (33-16-2) is in second place in the division, two points ahead of Gwinnett (30-17-6).
Turple made 36 saves in another dominating performance against the Everblades. The rookie is 4-0 against Florida and 11-9-3 against other league teams.
"If you look at his numbers, we might be the only team he plays well against," Everblades coach Gerry Fleming said with a laugh. "Listen. He's a big guy. He covers a lot of the net and he played well again tonight."
Gwinnett coach Jeff Pyle couldn't explain Turple's mastery of the Everblades, one of the ECHL's top scoring clubs. Turple has allowed just 11 goals in four games against Florida.
"I don't know what makes these guys tick," Pyle said about Turple and the club's other rookie goalie Dave Caruso. "Sometimes they're really sharp, sometimes they struggle. They're both young, but I know they're going to battle for us every night. I told them I trust you both. But with two young goalies, we have to play better in front of them."
Florida played with just 14 skaters, two below the typical number, as three of the team's top six scorers missed the game. Forwards Reggie Berg (undisclosed) and Brent McDonald (foot) sat out with injuries while forward Jon Lehun was promoted to the American Hockey League's Rochester Americans on Thursday.
Florida dominated the first period, outshooting Gwinnett 16-6, but had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard thanks in large part to Turple.
"We were a little shocked we couldn't squeak one in because the ice was just titled for them (in the first period)," Everblades forward Brett Peterson said. "They did a good job in the first period even though they were getting shelled. We'd get a shot and they'd just push it away. "
Gwinnett's league-best power-play unit scored two goals as the Gladiators grabbed a 3-2 lead entering the third period. Gwinnett's Blue Bennefield and Matt York each deflected in shots from the blue line for power play goals at the 6:27 and 14:58 mark of the second period, respectively.
Gwinnett forward Chad Painchaud added an insurance goal in the third period.