JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — The Gwinnett Gladiators dropped their fourth game in a row, falling 7-2 to the Wheeling Nailers at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena.
The Nailers (12-10-0), winners of three straight, took it to Gwinnett (12-8-4) early and often Friday night.
Ben Street got the Nailers offense going in the first. The forward scored the first two goals of the game at 1:01 and 8:18 to open a quick 2-0 Nailers lead. The second tally came on the power play for Wheeling.
Doug Rogers tacked on one more goal at 11:36 to push Wheeling’s lead to 3-0 at the end of 20 minutes.
The second period wasn’t much better for Gwinnett.
Wheeling extended the lead to four on Casey Pierro-Zabotel’s third of the year at 11:51.
The Gladiators broke up the shutout at 16:07 on the power play as Michael Davies scored his second goal of the year in his first game back in Gwinnett with an assist to Paul Flache. Davies missed 13 games after being called up to Chicago in the AHL. He rejoined the team Thursday.
Trailing 4-1, the Nailers capitalized on another defensive breakdown by Gwinnett. Joey Haddad rifled a shot past goalie Billy Sauer from the slot just 43 seconds after Davies’ goal to put the score at 5-1.
Just 3:50 into the third Danick Paquette blasted a slapshot past goalie Pat Killeen for his fifth of the season off a feed from Pat Galivan. That was as close as the Gladiators would get though, as Rogers scored his second of the game at 9:15 and Jason DeSantis made it 7-2 at 12:35 of the third to cap the scoring at 7-2.
Killeen stopped 28 of 30 shots for the win, while Sauer took the loss. Sauer was pulled in favor of Chris Carrozzi to start the third period.
Fitting that in the same arena where the classic hockey movie “Slapshot” was filmed there were three fights in the game. Flache beat down Wheeling captain Andrew Lord early in the second period, while Cody Brookwell split a bout with Lord nearly 15 minutes later and Matt Krug duked it out with Ryan Schnell in the third.
Gwinnett is back in action against Wheeling in Johnstown tonight at 7:30 p.m.