NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. - The Gwinnett Gladiators snapped a two-game losing skid with a 5-3 win over the South Carolina Stingrays at the North Charleston Coliseum on Friday night.
Jamie Milam posted three assists in the win for Gwinnett and Craig Kowalski made 48 saves - many of them spectacular en route to his seventh win of the season.
"K-wal made some huge saves for us," Gladiators head coach Jeff Pyle said. "Both teams had good opportunities. It was one of those games were I think K-wal was the difference."
The Gladiators (10-3-1) remain in second place in the South Division and cap a set of four games in five days tonight at home. Charlotte, which was beaten badly by division-leading Texas on Friday, visits the Arena at Gwinnett Center for a 7:35 p.m. puck drop today.
"We played really well," Pyle said. "We played really hard. It was the kind of game we needed."
Jim Jackson posted his sixth goal of the season and gave Gwinnett the early lead 3:10 into Friday's game. The defenseman ripped a slap shot from the blue line past goaltender Davis Parley. Milam and Lou Dickenson set up Jackson's marker. Jackson was injured during the game, however, and Pyle said he likely won't play today.
South Carolina tied the game about 90 seconds later on a goal by Marty Guerin. But Gwinnett scored the next two and didn't relinquish the lead - a solid change of pace after the last two games. The Gladiators were leading in each of their last two games, only to see it slip away.
That wasn't the case against the Stingrays.
Dickenson put Gwinnett ahead for good at 16:43 of the first period. Tapping the puck to himself and slipping past a South Carolina defender in the neutral zone, Dickenson beat Parley on a breakaway chance. Milam had his second assist of the game throwing the puck into the neutral zone to Dickenson.
Mike Hamilton doubled that margin at 8:08 of the second. The rookie picked up a rebound along the goal line and flicked it over Parley's shoulder. The tally earned Milam his third assist in as many goals.
South Carolina again cut the Gladiators lead to one goal at 13:55 of the second. Despite a handful of great saves by Kowalski throughout the period, Steve Pinizzotto was able to tuck the puck just inside the goal post to make it a 3-2 game.
Andy Brandt scored the eventual winner barely a minute into the third period.
Picking up a rebound in the slot, Brandt beat Parley to the short side for the goal.
The Stingrays made a final push, scoring just as a power play expired. Andrew Andricopoulos found a loose puck in the high slot and lit the lamp with 2:33 remaining in regulation.
An empty-netter for Hamilton iced the win with five seconds left.