NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — A Wayne Simpson snipe late in the second period stood up as the game-winner and despite a flurry of late chances, the Gwinnett Gladiators dropped a 3-2 decision Saturday night to South Carolina at North Charleston Coliseum.
Brad Phillips made several highlight reel stops, turning side 26 shots for the Gladiators in a losing cause. His counterpart David LeNeveu made 19 saves for his third win of the season.
Just as they did a night before, South Carolina drew first blood with Luke Grenier capitalizing on a giveaway behind the net by Phillips. The Gladiators came back though just over a minute later.
A point shot was stopped by LeNeveu, but he lost the rebound on the far side of the crease and Coyotes prospect Josh Currie buried the rebound for his fourth goal of the season. Evan Bloodoff and Joey Haddad had the assists.
Also much like Friday night, the Rays answered with a tally late in the period. Paul Rodrigues rifled a nice feed from Peter Boyd on the far side past Phillips to push the Stingrays ahead 2-1 with just 18 seconds left in the first.
The opening period also featured a feisty bout between two heavyweights as an even scrap ended with Gwinnett’s Brett Lyon throwing down Steve Spinell.
Gwinnett tied it again at 16:31 of the second period. Brian Elser worked the puck into the Rays zone, moving it to Lyon, who fed a beautiful pass to the slot for Jeremie Malouin. The Granby, Quebec native made no mistake and lifted the puck over LeNeveu for his first pro goal.
But South Carolina managed to get back the lead with another goal late in a period.
Simpson gunned a shot over the glove of Phillips from the near dot with 58 seconds left in the second, putting the Rays ahead for good 3-2.
Gwinnett had several chances with an empty net in the closing minute, but LeNeveu made a couple big stops to send the Gladiators into the holiday break on a three-game losing streak.