DULUTH — The music was blaring from the Gwinnett Gladiators locker room again.
And Edward Pasquale was a big reason why.
Assigned to the team from AHL Chicago on Monday, Pasquale made 49 saves in 65 minutes and stonewalled Wheeling in the shootout as the Gladiators snapped a franchise-record losing streak Tuesday.
The 4-3 shootout win was Gwinnett’s first in December, a stretch of 11 games with just a point for an overtime loss to show for it.
Pasquale hadn’t seen a lot of action in Chicago lately.
He saw plenty in his ECHL debut.
The Atlanta Thrashers’ draft pick was more than happy to help end therun of futility.
“Yeah, I faced a lot of shots, but you’ve got to give the ‘D’ credit, they blocked a lot of shots, too,” Pasquale said. “They were on a streak, but they came to play tonight.
“I wasn’t here for the streak, but I know how it feels. We had one going in Chicago. It feels great (to end it). Everyone will be a lot happier around the rink.”
Wheeling held a wide shot advantage after a pair of power-play chances in the first 10 minutes of the game, but Pasquale turned them all aside and gave Gwinnett a chance to grab a 1-0 lead in the first.
Being outshot 16-4, the Gladiators’ fifth shot was into the back of the net.
Starting their first power play with a faceoff in Wheeling’s zone, the puck caromed to Aaron Bendickson at the top of the crease. Bendickson quickly flicked it past goalie Mike Brown at 13:36. His sixth goal of the season came just nine seconds into the power play.
“Our penalty kill was good, we were battling,” Gwinnett head coach Jeff Pyle said. “The thing is, we’re taking too many stupid penalties again. They’re battling, but there’s got to be a gut check.”
A series of penalties at the end of the first left the Nailers with a 4-on-3 power play to start the second.
They tied the game 41 seconds into the period and then took a 2-1 lead at 6:20. Ryan Schnell came out of the corner and whipped a turnaround shot past a screened Pasquale.
“We bounced back right away though and got the power-play goal to tie it,” Pyle said.
With play collapsed around the Nailers’ net, the puck skittered over the line after a long scrum.
Brown was enraged when referee Colin Kronforst allowed the goal, immediately leaping up and pursuing him around behind the net with arms raised. The protest fell on deaf ears and Brown was left only to stand well out of his crease, staring threateningly at Kronforst who skated to center ice for the faceoff.
Defenseman Will Colbert was credited with the goal at 6:56.
“The puck was laying there and guys were poking at it,” Pyle said.
Still being drastically outshot, the Gladiators regained the lead with another quick power-play tally.
This one came eight seconds into the man-advantage and gave Gwinnett a 3-2 margin at 16:05.
Tim Miller got a feed from the corner and his shot from the slot hit the post, the back of Brown’s leg pad and bounced over the goal line.
Wheeling tied it on a shot from the point through heavy traffic at 8:46, but Pasquale didn’t let anything else get past him. That combined with a goal from Andy Brandt in the shootout was enough to end the Gladiators’ skid.
“(Pasquale saved us) to a certain extent,” Pyle said. “But a lot of good things happened. The power play was pretty good and scored when we had to. The boys are playing hard, but they’re still sloppy at times.
“If we’re going to turn this thing around we need guys to be more committed. I’m glad for the win, but we’re far from out of it.”