DULUTH — Tyler Murovich banged home his second goal of the game to give the Gwinnett Gladiators a 4-2 win over Trenton with 6,503 on hand Sunday at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.
In a crowd on top of Titans' goalie Scott Wedgewood, Murovich was the one to finally jam the puck into the net. Wedgewood was sitting and scrambling, smashed in the helmet with a swinging stick before Murovich cashed in at 7:42 of the third period.
The Gladiators (18-6-1-0, 37 points) held on through a contentious game with Trenton, adding an empty-netter from Doug Jones, to seal their third win in as many days and remain atop the Eastern Conference standings.
“Every time you play a three-in-three, it's tough on your body,” Murovich said. “You're physically and mentally drained. Especially playing (division rival) Greenville the first two games and we're coming against a Trenton team that's hungry off a (shootout) loss in South Carolina.
“We knew we had to show our character and when we were tied 2-2 going into the third, the attitude in the room was great. We had that confidence.”
Murovich's go-ahead goal added fuel to the fires and a bit of a donnybrook broke out along the player benches less than a minute later.
The end result was a power-play for Trenton, despite the fact that Titans' Andrew Conboy threw a helmet into the stands. Conboy likely will face league discipline for his actions. Before the Gladiators relocated to Gwinnett from Mobile, one of their players, Dennis Mullen, was suspended 36 games in 2001 for the same thing.
The Gladiators killed off that penalty and held on to wrap up a set of three wins in 48 hours.
“When your energy stores aren't the best, you have to play smart,” Murovich said. “I think our team did a good job just sticking to the plan.
“It definitely had that feel of a game where you're waiting for the other team to crack. They do have some physical defenseman that kind of got in our face. And then the stuff getting mixed up at the end was good too. We're good at responding and adapting to whatever type of game is thrown at us.”
Gwinnett rallied from an early 1-0 deficit, grabbing a 2-1 lead with just 20 seconds left in the first period.
Trenton (8-11-1-2, 19 points) scored first at 2:58 on a wrister by Conboy from the high slot that beat goalie Louis Domingue over the glove.
The Gladiators tied it on the power play at 11:32. Defenseman Cody Brookwell laid into a heavy shot from the point which Wedgewood failed to control. John Scrymgeour was part of a scrum in front of the net and swept a backhander in.
Murovich was in a similar spot to score the go-ahead goal at 19:40. Wedgewood gave up a juicy rebound and Murovich was at the post to lift it into the back of the net.
But Trenton got even early in the second period. An unopposed Ian Slater cruised down the wing with speed and snapped a shot past Domingue on the short-side post at 3:13 to tie it 2-2.