Gladiators take 2-0 series lead on road to South Carolina

As you might expect, the mood was light as the Gwinnett Gladiators finished practice and packed up for their trip to Charleston, S.C., early Tuesday afternoon.

The Gladiators have a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven first round playoff series against South Carolina after two big home wins.

Gwinnett pounded its division rival 5-0 on Friday night and Joey Haddad scored the game-winning goal with 16.5 seconds left in regulation Saturday.

"If you're not (feeling good), you're in trouble," said goaltender Louis Domingue, who gave up just two goals in Game 2 and has a .952 save percentage. "It's playoffs.

"We're on a good roll as a team. It's a matter of turning the page every night and starting a new day trying to get better."

As well as the Gladiators played last weekend, they know there is a long way to go.

"I've seen teams come back from a 2-0 (series) hole," said Domingue, a Phoenix Coyotes rookie prospect. "It's common. It's like when an animal is dying, it's going to fight to the end.

"They've got three games at home and they're going to take advantage of that."

Game 3 is tonight at 7 p.m. at the North Charleston Coliseum. The teams get a day off before playing Friday and, barring a sweep, Saturday.

The series returns to Gwinnett, if necessary, on Tuesday.

"Even when we're winning games, we've got to stay sharp," Domingue said. "That's what we've done all year. We've found a way to play hard every night and that's what we've got to do in the next game."

Before loading out for the Palmetto State, the Gladiators had two roster changes. Defenseman Dallas Jackson was sent back after a long stint in the AHL and Phoenix assigned rookie forward Scott Arnold to AHL Portland.

Jackson has been with Bridgeport since Dec. 29 and played in 21 games. While he was in Gwinnett, Jackson had 15 points in 31 games this season and 29 in 62 last year.

Arnold, who had a goal and an assist in Friday's win, began the season in Portland and played in eight games. He was sent to the Gladiators on Dec. 19 and put up 20 points in 32 games here.

It doesn't change what Gwinnett plans to do, though.

"They've definitely got something to prove, especially in front of their home fans," Haddad said. "We know they have a good team and we know they didn't play quite their best games this weekend, but we feel we can step it up a notch too. We're looking forward to the challenge."

The Gladiators want to get down by the goal line more, as they did during the regular season, while making sure to consistently chip pucks in and out of the zones. They also want to be sure to stay disciplined.

Despite the saltiness of the first two games, with a fair amount of gatherings after the whistle, both teams haven't been called for many penalties. Gwinnett has 20 minutes in infractions and South Carolina just 18.

"I think they're going to make it a point to get some of our players off their game and try to get them to take penalties," Haddad said. "I have a reputation to maybe get a little hot-headed and I've got to do my job for my team and keep that under control.

"I felt like our team has done a pretty good job of handling emotions. We make it a point in the room and make it a point to each other. One of our team quotes is 'Don't be angry, be hungry.'"