Gladiators bounce back with shutout of S.C.

Gladiators netminder Louis Domingue prepares to save a shot Saturday against South Carolina.

Gladiators netminder Louis Domingue prepares to save a shot Saturday against South Carolina.


Photo: Amanda Hertel Gladiators Justin Bowers (71) and Justin Weller (20) hold off South Carolina's Matt Beca as netminder Louis Domingue records his second shutout of the season Saturday.

DULUTH -- Blanked a night before, the Gwinnett Gladiators solved South Carolina goalie Ryan Zapolski on Saturday.

And Gwinnett goalie Louis Domingue returned the favor, stonewalling the Stingrays for his second shutout of the season.

Two goals less than three minutes apart early in the third period broke open a tight game and the Gladiators won the rematch with the Stingrays 3-0 in front of a season-high crowd of 9,587 at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

Justin Bowers had a goal and two assists -- the first three-point night for a Gladiator in nearly a month -- to spearhead the offensive effort. Joey Haddad also had a goal and an assist in his best game since returning from a long stint on injured reserve three weeks ago.

"He's definitely the best goalie in the league for a reason," Bowers said of Zapolski. "He somehow finds shots you don't even think he's going to see. So you've really got to make a good play to get it by him.

"I thought we answered pretty well from yesterday. We were a little frustrated yesterday and today we did the little things. We kind of snuck behind him in places and executed those plays. It was nice to get the win."

Domingue didn't have to make many saves, but he made them all.

The highlight came not long after Gwinnett (28-18-2-1, 59 points) opened the scoring in the first period. Domingue came across the net to stymie South Carolina (23-23-1-3, 50 points) on a premium point-blank opportunity. The rookie netminder, who only gave up one goal in Friday's loss, finished with 24 stops in the win.

"Louie did his job last night and tonight," Bowers said. "Last night the team didn't do its job in front of him and it was evident. I think we answered the bell pretty well tonight and took a step in the right direction."

Bowers converted on a smart backhanded feed through the crease from Haddad to give the Gladiators a 1-0 lead at 8:09 of the first.

Bowers was open on the backdoor and hammered the pass past Zapolski for his 11th goal of the season.

The 1-0 lead stood up through the second period despite a slew of penalties that left more open space and created some good scoring chances on both ends.

The Gladiators pushed their advantage early in the third when Bowers set up Casey Pierro-Zabotel. Working on the power play, Bowers found Pierro-Zabotel with a pass across the slot. Pierro-Zabotel, near the bottom of the face-off circle, held it for a moment and fired it into the top of the net at 2:11. Zapolski was already down and could only throw his glove in the air.

"I think a lot of (the difference from Friday) had to do with their being short-staffed," Bowers said. "They only had 14 skaters and last night we didn't take advantage of it at all. This game, the first and second period, we got in on them and I think we tired them out. It's a lot harder for their defensemen to battle for positioning in front of the net when they're tired."

Haddad put an emphatic nail into the Stingrays' coffin at 5:08. The powerful forward sliced down the wing, went around a sliding defenseman and fired the puck into the back of the net. Bowers sprung him on the chance for his third point of the game.

"We had a gameplan to come out hard tonight and be a hard team to play against," Bowers said. "Coach told us we were an easy team to play against (Friday) and tonight we just wanted to execute our forecheck, get in on them and tire them out. I think it ended up creating a lot more space for us and then we executed."


TOWG 2 years, 6 months ago

Great game by the Glads! I was hoping for maybe a couple of more goals to really ice it so coach could put Greg in goal for the final few minutes! He's my new hero and I'd love to see him get even a couple of minutes of ice time.


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