READING, Pa. Gwinnett Gladiators head coach Jeff Pyle made a specific point in practice Monday that they couldn't keep giving up goals in the first and last two minutes of periods. They didn't and scored two goals themselves that way.
An early power play goal from Gwinnett's Chris Higgins helped get the road trip started on the right foot as the Gladiators earned a 4-1 victory Wednesday night in Reading. Matt Francis also collected a first period goal as the Gladiators jumped out to a 2-0 lead after one period.
The Gladiators got the scoring started early on in the game with a power play goal by Chris Higgins. A one-touch pass found Higgins wide open on the left post, and Higgins made no mistake sliding a puck through the pads of Royals goaltender Matt Dalton. The goal came at the 2:53 mark of the first period.
Matt Francis increased the Gwinnett lead with 3:29 to go in the first. Francis buried a shot in the top right corner of the net.
Gwinnett outshot the Royals 16-6 in the first period with Danny Taylor stopping all six shots he faced in the opening frame.
The Gladiators entered the second period killing the remainder of a penalty to Matt Siddall, but that penalty would work out in the Gladiators favor. Gwinnett was able to deflect a puck into the neutral zone right as Siddall stepped out of the box, and Siddall notched Gwinnett's third marker of the night over the glove of Dalton on the breakaway. The goal was scored unassisted 1:34 into the second period.
Reading was able to cut into the three goal advantage at the 6:12 mark. Matt Marquardt picked up a loose puck along the right wing and powered toward the net, knocking Taylor and the puck into the net.
Gwinnett would answer back before the end of the second period. Once again with a player coming out of the penalty box, Gwinnett was able to increase its lead. Tim Miller fired a shot inside the right post putting Gwinnett up 4-1.
A solid defensive effort from Gwinnett in the third period kept the Royals off the scoreboard, although the Gladiators were aided by a goalpost halfway through the period.
Gwinnett was outshot 39-35 by the Royals, while Danny Taylor pushed aside 38 shots en route to second star honors on the night. The Gladiators were 1-for-3 on the Applebees power play and held the Royals scoreless in four chances against. The Gladiators improved to 19-17-3-2 with the win while the Royals fell to 22-17-1-3 with the loss.