Gladiators start fast, even series with Cyclones

CINCINNATI -- The Gwinnett Gladiators burst out of the gates and beat Cincinnati 4-2 to even their best-of-seven conference semifinal series Friday.

Casey Pierro-Zabotel buried his first goal of the playoffs and tacked on two assists, and Louis Domingue made 39 saves to backstop Gwinnett. Game 5 is today at 7:30 p.m.

The Gladiators jumped all over the Cyclones in the first.

After a scramble in front of the Cyclones net, Domenic Monardo lifted a rebound over goalie Michael Houser to give Gwinnett a 1-0 led just 5:57 into the game.

Pierro-Zabotel added to the lead on the power-play at 18:28. The forward deflected a Sacha Guimond shot past Houser, with Justin Bowers adding the second assist.

Gwinnett made it 3-0 just 3:35 into the second period. Doug Jones hammered in a point-blank one-timer on a set-up from Pierro-Zabotel and Scott Arnold for his first goal of the playoffs.

Cincinnati's Trevor Lewis deflected a point shot over the right shoulder of Domingue just 21 seconds later, but the Gladiators got the last parry in the second period.

Coming off a couple Cyclone chances, Arnold led a rush into the Cincinnati zone down the right wing, and put a pass into the slot right to the stick of Evan Bloodoff. Bloodoff then slid the puck under Houser for his fourth goal of the postseason and a 4-1 Gwinnett lead.

Tyler Murovich had the second assist on the 19:14 goal.

Cincinnati found the back of the net in the third as David Pacan slid a puck past Domingue at 7:48 with Lewis interfering with the Gwinnett keeper in the crease. That was as close as the Cyclones got as Domingue and the Gladiators slammed the door shut to even the series 2-2.