GREENVILLE, S.C. -- For the second straight night the Gwinnett Gladiators and Greenville Road Warriors battled to the waning seconds of the third, and for the second straight night Gwinnett prevailed 3-2. The regulation win Saturday evening at the BI-LO Center pushed the Gladiators (40-18-7-4) five points ahead of the Warriors (40-23-2-4) in the ECHL's South Division.
Paul Flache buried a rebound just off the near post at the 9:25 mark of the third to break a 2-2 draw. Pat Galivan chipped in the assist, and that was all the Gladiators would need as goaltender Marc Cheverie slammed the door shut from there on out.
Greenville's best chance to tie came with the Warriors on a 6-on-3 advantage late in the third. With just five seconds remaining the Road Warriors launched one last rush, as Cheverie turned away two point blank chances as time expired to preserve the win.
Cheverie made 35 saves to win his fourth straight start since returning from AHL Portland, all four coming against Greenville. Nic Riopel turned aside 31 shots for the Road Warriors.
Chris McKelvie's third goal of the season opened the scoring in the first at 7:43, but the Gladiators would answer before the period was over.
Defenseman Stephen Mallaro, who was a scratch Friday night, blasted a shot from the near point past Riopel at 17:01. Mallaro's second marker of the season was assisted by Doug Jones and Nikita Kashirsky, and the score stayed at 1-1 through 20 minutes.
The assist was the first of Jones' pro career in his second pro game.
In the second, Kashirsky took an outlet from Joey Haddad, dodged a hip-check from Greenville defenseman Wes Cunningham along the near boards, and beat Riopel through the five-hole with a wrist shot to push Gwinnett ahead 2-1 at 1:03.
The Warriors came back to tie however as Marc-Olivier Vallerand cashed in on a breakaway at 3:30 to make it a 2-2 game into the third.
The third period saw fast paced, physical play with a bout between Gwinnett defenseman Matt MacKenzie and Greenville defenseman Blake Parlett.