Photo: Amanda Hertel Gladiator Tony Lucia tries to score with a backhand on Orlando netminder Hannu Toivonen on Thursday night's 1-0 win over the Orlando Solar Bears.
DULUTH -- The Gwinnett Gladiators are good in one-goal games.
They've played in eight straight and won seven of those, including a 1-0 victory over Orlando before a holiday crowd of 4,028 on Thursday evening at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.
Defenseman Cody Brookwell scored the game's only goal just 5:31 into the game and goalie Mike Lee made 22 saves for the shutout, his second of the season.
"When you're in a 1-0 game, you've got to really simplify," Brookwell said. "It was nothing fancy, but we got the job done. At the end of the game, we were just trying to hold the lead because at the end of the day, one goal is good enough to win."
Gwinnett, with it's 13th win in the last 15 games, remains at the top of the South Division standings and faces Orlando again tonight at 6:05 p.m. at the arena.
The Solar Bears (8-7-2-1, 19 points) stepped up their intensity after the Gladiators (13-4-1-0, 27 points) controlled much of the play in the first.
They took a 1-0 lead when Tyler Murovich recognized a perfect opportunity with the right-handed Brookwell charging into the offensive zone on a line chance.
Murovich corralled a bouncing puck along the left wall halfway into the Solar Bears' end. He found Brookwell moving in all alone on the right point. Murovich snapped the puck across the ice and Brookwell ripped his shot past goalie Hannu Toivonen.
"Well, you know, a good goal-scorer like myself, who has one goal on the year," Brookwell joked about his thought process when Murovich set him up.
"No, I think in those situations, when you get a good pass, he gives you the opportunity to put the puck in the net, I'm just looking to get it off my stick and in a good spot at the net."
Brookwell's shot beat Toivonen, who played three seasons in the NHL earlier in his career, on the glove side about halfway up and just inside the post.
"I got lucky," Brookwell said with a laugh.
The second period was far more physical and Gwinnett didn't get quite as much sustained pressure, but it didn't change the scoreboard.
"Any team, especially if they're flat like they were, you're going to see a second wave, a pushback from them," Brookwell said. "I'm pretty sure that was part of their game plan going into the room between the periods, to pick it up physically and try to beat us down low."
Gwinnett was comfortable playing the tougher style for the last 40 minutes.
"We're definitely ready for games like that," Brookwell said. "It's not like we're unfamiliar with teams like that and I think our ability to play in all types of games is what is making us so successful."
The shots Orlando did manage to get off were gobbled up by Lee, who was supported well by the defense.
"He played an excellent game," Brookwell said. "Most of the credit should go to toward him and not the D. We were just trying to give him a good look at every shot and I think we did that. When the time came for him to make the desperate save, he did that for us, too. So it was a good game at both ends."