DULUTH -- Mike Bartlett's debut didn't end in a Gwinnett victory, but the center showed why he will be an important addition to the Gladiators.
Despite not having had a full practice with his new team, Bartlett scored the tying goal in the third period Saturday night against Reading in a game the Gladiators ended up losing 3-2 in a shootout.
Gwinnett is right back in action today in the Arena at Gwinnett Center with a 4:05 p.m. game against Toledo and Barlett should be more in synch with his new teammates.
Gladiators coach John Wroblewski is already very, very familiar with Bartlett. Although they didn't play together at Notre Dame, they have been friends since the Illinois native followed him with the Fighting Irish.
"We had dialogue this summer and he knew he had an opportunity here if it didn't work out in the AHL," Wroblewski said. "He'll be a go-to guy for us. He's extremely valuable. Mike's a high energy player with a lot of character who has got a nice skill."
Bartlett showed that 7:57 into the third period, skating into the middle and burying a wrist shot past Reading goalie Karel St. Laurent for a power-play goal that tied the game.
But Gwinnett (5-2-2) got just the one point as St. Laurent stopped four of the five Gladiators in the shootout to the disappointment of a crowd of 5,775.
Yannick Riendeau and Ryan Cruthers beat Gwinnett goalie Marc Cheverie in the shootout, while Nikita Kashirsky was the only Gladiators scorer.
St. Laurent had 36 saves for Reading (5-3-1) and benefited from Gwinnett players drawing iron on shots nearly a half-dozen times. Andy Brandt was the last Gladiator, hitting the left post in the closing seconds of regulation.
The Gladiators took a lead just 2:13 into the game on Joey Haddad's breakaway short-handed score. Haddad's second goal of the season came just 14 seconds after Gwinnett's Chris Clackson was called for goalie interference.
But Reading tied the game with nine minutes left in the opening period. Royals captain Cruthers got his third goal of the season, beating Cheverie from in close. Former Gladiator Chad Painchaud got the primary assist.
Haddad drew a double-minor for high sticking with 28 seconds left and Reading went up 2-1 only 27 seconds into the second period. Riendeau got his third goal of the season on a one-timer from the right circle after a pass from Ryley Grantham.
After being turned away several times by St. Laurent and hitting the crossbar once, it looked like the Gladiators had tied the game with 4.5 seconds left in the second period. But it was ruled that Bryan Brutlag had kicked the puck in.
After Bartlett's tying goal, the Gladiators kept up the pressure, out-shooting Reading 16-3 in the third period. But they couldn't get the go-ahead goal.
Gwinnett blanked the Royals 2-0 in Reading last Sunday in a storm-delayed game in which Jeff Jakaitis made 33 saves. Cheverie had 28 saves this time.
Bartlett, in his fifth professional season, signed with the Gladiators on Friday following his release Wednesday by Houston (AHL). He didn't have a point in three games with the Aeros, but had eight goals and 10 assists in 71 games with Milwaukee (AHL) last season.
Bartlett, 26, played four seasons at Notre Dame and entered this season with 137 points (57 goals and 80 assists) over 262 professional games in the AHL, ECHL and CHL.
After today's game against Toledo, Gwinnett begins a four-game road trip Wednesday in Elmira. The Gladiators then play three games next weekend, the first two in Toledo and the third in Chicago. Gwinnett is 3-1-1 on the road.