Gladiators rally to beat Florida in shootout


DULUTH -- Down 2-0 and 3-2, the Gwinnett Gladiators fought back to force overtime against Florida on Thursday and prevailed in the shootout for the second straight game.

In an eery coincidence, the shootout went the same way as it had in Saturday's game.

Joe Palmer stopped all but one attempt, while Brad Miller, Joey Haddad and Pat Galivan scored in the shootout to seal the 4-3 win.

"The guys came and worked and they played with detail," head coach John Wroblewski said. "It's been a staple of this club since Day 1. To the credit of every guy in there, that's what they value as well.

"They value the things we're preaching. So they go out and execute on them and when you get an effort like that, you definitely deserve to win the game."

The win kept Gwinnett at the top of the conference and division standings. The Gladiators lead Greenville by five points and wrap up an eight-game homestand this weekend.

"Even though there were a couple goals that happened haphazardly there, I thought we did a lot tonight to regroup from those bad bounces and continue to create," Wroblewski said.

The Gladiators rallied from a two-goal deficit to tie it in the second period.

Florida chipped two pucks past Palmer, the first just 48 seconds into the second period.

Palmer, now Gwinnett's go-to goalie with Jeff Jakaitis out for the rest of a season following a knee injury, was again a victim of a bad bounce at 5:01. Mathieu Roy got credit for the Everblades' goal when one of the Gladiators tried to clear a puck and knocked it past Palmer.

Palmer made some outstanding saves in the ensuing minutes to keep Gwinnett in striking distance. The most spectacular was when Palmer went post to post to rob Rylan Galiardi at 7:00. Galiardi was alone on the backdoor and had Palmer dead to rights when the goalie lunged out with his glove and ripped the puck out of the air.

The Gladiators were the beneficiaries of another squirrely puck. Working on the power play, Bryan Brutlag was down low and tapped a shot under Florida goalie Pat Nagle at 9:17.

"Since Jeff's injury, we've talked a lot about gaining inches," Wroblewski said. "How important, especially, it was to gain those inches around the nets. We really talked just about how important our battle level was in those areas, our body positioning and stick detail.

"The puck was bouncing, but I felt like the puck was bouncing in our direction a lot tonight. The feeling around here, the mantra around here is you create those bounces."

Less than two minutes later, Dallas Jackson went end to end and whacked his own rebound by Nagle to tie the game. Jackson was on the goal line and banked it in from a difficult angle at 10:52.

The Everblades regained their lead at 15:52, just seconds after a power play expired, on a top-shelf shot from Alex Hutchings.

Gwinnett captain Paul Flache tied it again on a blast from the point. Getting a quick feed across the zone from fellow defenseman Dallas Jackson, Flache unloaded and beat a screened Nagle at 8:18 of the third.

It's always nice to get goals from everybody," Wroblewski said. "The way our system works is once you're on the offense, there isn't a defenseman and a forward. Once you're in possession of the puck, you should read and react accordingly to the defense and the puck.

"Jackson's goal, he was the guy with the puck. There was no danger with him joining the play so he jumps in. Flacher's goal it was just another case of in-zone offense. Quite a bit of effort and strategy went into that goal."


FordGalaxy 2 years, 2 months ago

Fantastic game. It's a shame that more people weren't there to see it. The crowd last Saturday was awesome, over 10,000. The bad thing is, there is occasionally one story in the Daily Post, and absolutely nothing on the AJC or the local TV news. There was some reporting Saturday, but only because Clark Howard was there. If more people would come to these games, they'd see just how great it is. Minor League Hockey is a blast.


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