Helfrich, Brutlag shine for Gladiators

DULUTH -- It was a night of firsts as the Gwinnett Gladiators slowly put Greenville to bed in their home opener Friday.

Two former Renesselaer Polytechnic Institute Engineers teammates, Tyler Helfrich and Bryan Brutlag, helped improve the Gladiators to a 2-1-0 record on the young season. The rookies notched their first professional goals in the 6-1 rout of Greenville.

Brutlag put Gwinnett in the lead for good early in the second period as he grabbed a loose rebound in the left circle and put it over a sprawled out goalie Jerry Kuhn.

"It was a very fitting goal as I was able to put home a rebound like I normally do," Brutlag said.

Helfrich added to the RPI theme as he notched his first two goals early in the third period. Similar to Brutlag, Helfrich found the back of the net from the left doorstep off a tape-to-tape feed from another new Gladiator, Nikita Kashirsky.

Helfrich was just as excited as his former college teammate to get his first goal out of the way and even more to poke in a second just 18 seconds later.

"It felt really good, I was very excited and glad to see some gelling amongst the team," Helfrich said.

Both RPI alums were just as ecstatic to see each other get their first goals on the same evening.

"When I found out I was coming to Gwinnett, I called Tyler to let him know, even before my parents and family," said Brutlag, who played a couple games for the Florida Everblades at the end of last season.

"It's really fun to be playing with an old teammate and it's great that we got our first goals on the same night," Helfrich said.

They weren't the only firsts for Gwinnett on Friday. Defenseman Corey Fienhage also got his first pro goal to start the goal fest for the Gladiators. Marc Cheverie got his first win between the pipes for Gwinnett, stopping 36 of 37 shots. Head coach John Wroblewski also got his first home win as the Gladiators bench boss and second overall with the team.