Gladiators fail to match Warriors' intensity in 4-2 loss

DULUTH -- The Gwinnett Gladiators never led in their second home game and lost 4-2 to Greenville on Saturday, just a day after rolling past the Warriors.

The Gladiators had chances.

They got a power play with 5:30 left in regulation and head coach John Wroblewski called a timeout to draw up a play.

He also pulled goalie Jeff Jakaitis for two-man advantage, but Gwinnett (2-2-0) couldn't muster a second rally despite a big final push in front of 6,716 at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

"It was unfortunate that it took having to pull the goalie for 5 -1/2 minutes for us to really give what we had," Wroblewski said. "The nice thing, the positive side that we saw is when there is resolve, when there needs to be an answer, our group proves they can do it. When they have an off-night, they proved in the last 5 -1/2 minutes that, yes, they can find it.

"The issue I have is it shouldn't take having to pull the goalie for 5 -1/2 minutes to find that missing ingredient with our team."

Nic Riopel was a wall between the pipes, especially down the stretch, as Greenville earned its first win, and first points, of the season.

"We didn't have it tonight,"Wroblewski said. "(Greenville) came out with the urgency we expected. They're a talented team, a very hard-working team. Being 0-3, we knew their back was against the wall. It was clearly laid out as far as what our challenge was going to be for them.

"We didn't match their intensity, that's for sure."

He also acknowledged there was a hangover from the Gladiators' 6-1 victory Friday in the home opener.

"Absolutely," Wroblewski said. "I think that played into it. That was something we had addressed, that to do it one night is very good. But if you're going to do it one night, you're going to have to back it up the next.

"Consistency is a mark of excellence. We failed that test tonight."

A controversial call that had boos raining down from the stands -- and Wroblewski raising his arms in search of an explanation -- gave Greenville a 2-0 lead at the end of the first period.

Already up 1-0 on a power-play goal by Cullen Eddy, the Warriors were credited for a goal courtesy of a clock malfunction and its subsequent confusion.

The arena scoreboard clocks stopped working with nearly two minutes to go and the horn sounded before Wes Cunningham's shot from the point went into the net.

Referee Frederic Leblanc emphatically waived it off.

Then he went to talk to the scorer's table.

Only Wroblewski was left on the Gladiators' bench when Leblanc turned and pointed at center ice, indicating the goal was good.

Wroblewski objected.

The fans shouted at Leblanc.

Leblanc made the players come back out when it was ruled the goal actually came with five seconds left and they had to finish the period.

Wroblewski didn't blame the referee for the loss, however.

"We didn't play well," he said.

The Gladiators did battle back to tie the game in the second.

Working on the power play, Nikita Kashirsky made a spectacular drive to the net and got Gwinnett on the board just 2:45 into the period.

Kashirsky walked around the Warriors, took a step to the side just as he got to the slot and buried a wrister. The Russian, who played half of the last two seasons in South Carolina, dropped to one knee as he skated along the boards and gave a big fist pump.

Joey Haddad, Corey Fienhage and Scott Fleming kept the building energized with a goal exactly two minutes later.

Haddad paid the price in the corner, fighting for the puck and kicking it up to Fienhage at the point. Fienhage uncorked a laser that Fleming tipped in from the slot at 4:45.

"I liked our answer there initially," Wroblewski said. "It was a focal point to get pucks on the net. We accomplished that a couple times and were rewarded. But we didn't have a consistent enough delivery of the puck down to the net and we lacked timing all over the ice tonight.

"It was apparent. It wasn't nearly as put together as it was last night."

Greenville regained its lead, though, at 12:47 on a wrister chunked at the net from the face-off dot that eluded Jakaitis.

The Gladiators had 20 minutes left to fight and got several premium scoring chances on a scramble in front of the Warriors' net with 13 -1/2 minutes left in the third. But barely 90 seconds later, Greenville's Jeff Prough controlled and buried a rebound. Jakaitis was sprawled on the ice after making the initial save and Prough pushed the Warriors' lead to 4-2 -- too much for Gwinnett to overcome.