BILOXI, Miss. - The Gwinnett Gladiators rallied from a third-period deficit with a pair of goals 37 seconds apart but fell 4-3 in an eight-round shootout against Mississippi on Friday.
Jordan Fox and Brad Schell lit the lamp in the third to give Gwinnett a 3-2 lead, but the Sea Wolves tied it with 1:03 remaining and then claimed the extra point in overtime.
The Gladiators have yet to win in four shootouts this season.
Mississippi (10-8-2) increased its lead to two points over the Gladiators (8-6-4) in the South Division standings in the first of a long series of meeting between the teams. They play again tonight in Biloxi and then four more times over the course of the next eight days.
Gwinnett has played two fewer games than the Sea Wolves this season though.
After a scoreless first period, Andy Brandt staked the Gladiators to a 1-0 lead. Trailing on an odd-man rush, Brandt picked up a rebound in the slot flicked the puck past Mississippi netminder Ryan Munce at 8:12 of the second.
Schell and Fox assisted on the goal, Brandt's second of the season.
Mississippi tied it at 13:16 when Mike Berry slipped past the Gladiators defense at the blueline and beat Gladiators netminder Kevin Nastiuk.
The Sea Wolves grabbed a 2-1 lead just 2:44 into the third period. In a pile-up in front of Nastiuk, Pat Oliveto found the loose puck and put it past the netminder.
Gwinnett answered with a pair of quick power-play goals later in the third period.
Fox, parked on the off wing, took a rink-wide pass on a 5-on-3 advantage and punched the puck past Munce at 11:50. Bruce Graham and Schell set up the tally to earn assists.
Schell regained the lead for Gwinnett with the remaining time on that same man-advantage at 12:27. Finding a loose puck in the right wing circle, Schell took advantage of a scrum in front of Munce as he whipped the puck past the out-of-position netminder.
Mississippi sent the contest to overtime with 63 seconds left in the third period. Ryan Menei slipped into the slot and slid the puck through the legs of Nastiuk.
After a scoreless overtime period, Nastiuk and Munce pushed the shootout to eight rounds before Mississippi won the contest on Berry's shot.
Gwinnett got shootout goals from Pat Bateman and Brandt in rounds one and three. Mississippi answered in the second and fourth rounds to send the contest to extra shootout rounds where Berry won it.