Win has Gladiators in top spot in ECHL

BILOXI, Miss. - The Gwinnett Gladiators won their second consecutive game against Mississippi, knocking off the Sea Wolves 3-2 on Friday night at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum.

Derek Nesbitt had the game-winning goal for Gwinnett while pushing his point scoring streak to seven consecutive games. The Gladiators improved to 6-1-0 and jumped to the top of the South Division standings. Their 12 points are best in the ECHL.

"We're finding ways to battle and we're finding ways to win," Gwinnett head coach Jeff Pyle said. "This is a fun team to coach right now."

The Gladiators have today off before playing another home game on Sunday against Charlotte at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

Pyle said he hadn't really thought about that game yet.

"We're just going to enjoy the trip home," Pyle said.

For the sixth time in seven games this season, Gwinnett took the lead first and didn't give it back.

Jeff Campbell gave the Gladiators a 1-0 lead on his second goal of the season. Taking a pass from Nesbitt in the right wing circle, Campbell ripped a slap shot past Sea Wolves netminder Morgan Cey for the power-play goal just 3:16 into the game.

Lou Dickenson boosted that lead to 2-0 with his third goal of the game. Myles Stoesz, who missed the last two games serving a league-imposed suspension for fighting, set up the play. Stoesz took a hit in the neutral zone, but worked the puck to Dirk Southern inside the blue line. Dickenson took a rink wide pass from Southern and ripping a slap shot past Cey for the marker at the 7:33 of the second period.

Mississippi got back within a goal at the 8:54 mark of the second period. Chase Trull found a loose puck in a pile-up in front of the Gladiators net and whack the puck past Dan Turple for the goal. Turple was playing in his first game for Gwinnett this season after spending the first few weeks on call-up with AHL Chicago.

"The tempo of the first two periods, we were flying," Pyle said. "We had a bunch of opportunities, but their goalie played really well. The first two periods seemed to fly by."

Nesbitt's sixth goal of the season proved to be the game winner and gave the Gladiators a 3-1 lead just 1:35 into the third period. Nesbitt took a feed from Campbell in the right wing circle and smoked the puck past Cey.

"We're just doing a lot of the little things well," Pyle said. "We got the 3-1 lead and, had we not taken the penalty, I'm pretty sure we would have won 3-1."

Mississippi made the contest interesting in the final two minutes of the third period. Going on a power play and pulling Cey in favor of an extra attacker, the Sea Wolves got a goal with just 24 seconds left in the game. Lance Monych found a loose puck along the goal line and flipped the puck past Turple for the goal. But it was too little to late for struggling Mississippi (1-5-0).

- Christine Troyke