DULUTH The Gwinnett Gladiators squandered another game in short order.
Pat Galivan, the team's leading scorer, gave the Gladiators a 3-2 lead on an unassisted goal 1:48 into the third period.
Stingrays 4, Gladiators 3
What happened: Gwinnett squandered a lead and multiple chances on the power play in the third period to drop its fourth straight to South Carolina. The Gladiators gave up two goals 12 seconds apart after taking a 3-2 lead early in the third.
Called-up: Pat Galivan, who had a goal and an assist Friday, has been called up to AHL Chicago. The rookie forward leads the Gladiators in scoring and will leave this morning to join the short-handed Wolves. It's Galivan's first trip to the AHL. "I'm glad for him," Gwinnett head coach Jeff Pyle said. "He deserves the opportunity."
Lineup update: The Gladiators played with a full lineup despite having five players scratched. Brad Schell remains on the long-term injured reserve and stood behind the bench for the second straight home game. Forward Mike Bayrack (upper body) and Matt Siddall (illness) missed the game. Siddall could be back in the lineup tonight though. South Carolina played with just 14 skaters.
Warm up: The first 2,000 fans to come through the Arena at Gwinnett Center doors tonight will get a Gladiators' fleece blanket.
On deck: The Stingrays (25-8-5, 55 points) remain in Gwinnett (15-13-4, 34 points) for tonight's 7:05 p.m. game before both teams head to the North Charleston Coliseum for a Sunday matinee.
Exactly one minute later, South Carolina led 4-3.
And despite three power-play chances over the next 17 minutes, the Gladiators fell by that margin Friday at the Arena at Gwinnett Center, their fourth straight loss to the league-leading Stingrays.
South Carolina scored on consecutive shots 12 seconds apart to erase Gwinnett's advantage and take their first lead of the game at 2:48 of the third.
The go-ahead goal came when Dylan Yeo skated in unopposed and rifled his shot past goalie David Brown.
"That fourth goal, Chad Denny just lets him skate end to end," Gladiators head coach Jeff Pyle said. "It's ridiculous the mistakes we make. And the third one was a soft one from behind the net."
Gwinnett has played the fewest games in the league but hasn't won in regulation in nine straight games. After nearly a month without one, the Gladiators' chances to stay in the playoff hunt are dwindling.
"We need some guys to step up and they don't," Pyle said. "There's too many guys who are white-knuckling their sticks. Instead of doing simple things, we turn it over and make some mistakes the you can't make. The third and fourth goals can't happen. You can't make those mistakes and win."
Gwinnett got out to a 2-0 lead in the first period courtesy of good pressure, the power play and spot-on play by Brown.
Adam Berti opened the scoring 3:41 into the game, the first goal in 10 games for the skilled forward.
Buzzing around the South Carolina net, the Gladiators created a number of chances before scoring. Scott Mifsud passed to Berti, who curled back around to the bottom of the face-off circle. Mifsud acted as a screen and Berti wristed his shot past netminder Shane Connelly.
Gwinnett's power play converted on its first chance of the game at 10:12 to go up 2-0.
Tim Miller shoveled a back-handed pass through the crease to Matt Francis, who was open on the far post. Using something between a redirection and a snap shot, Francis put the puck past Connelly in a sharp move.
Brown made several good saves, but the best of the period came with just 2:30 left. Sliding from post to post, Brown turned aside a difficult point-blank deflection with traffic in front.
"We're OK, we get out of the first period," Pyle said. "We played pretty good and we do a lot of things well. Then we get into the second and our turnovers and our mistakes (cost us)."
South Carolina fought back to tie it in the second. First on a power play goal by Spencer Carbery at 7:41 and then on a snappy deflection with 32 seconds left in the period. Jake Hauswirth was alone on the left post with Brown down and out. He leaned into the shot and lifted it top shelf for a 2-2 tie.
"We do some things well, but not consistently enough to win," Pyle said. "Our best guys aren't our best guys right now. They've got to step up and they're not getting it done."