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Gladiators gelling after weeks of roster changes

Photo: Amanda Hertel Gwinnett Gladiators forwards Justin Bowers, right, and Alex Belzile celebrate Bowers' goal in the first period against South Carolina goalie Ryan Zapolski on Saturday. It turned out to be the game-winning goal.

Photo: Amanda Hertel Gwinnett Gladiators forwards Justin Bowers, right, and Alex Belzile celebrate Bowers' goal in the first period against South Carolina goalie Ryan Zapolski on Saturday. It turned out to be the game-winning goal.

DULUTH -- It's taken some time, and one game isn't a definitive statement, but the Gwinnett Gladiators seem to be establishing some chemistry after a series of roster changes.

They'll need it heading into the final two months of the season with the South Division standings tightening up.

The Gladiators bounced back from a shutout loss to South Carolina on Friday and beat the Stingrays 3-0 in front of a record crowd at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

"Definitely (Saturday) was the first step in that direction," said Justin Bowers, who had a goal and two assists in the win. "It's taken a toll a bit, all the roster changes and guys are still getting used to each other."

Bowers was one of the players added recently, acquired in a trade with San Francisco on Jan. 14. He certainly looked to have a connection with his teammates Saturday, scoring on a feed from Joey Haddad and setting up Casey Pierro-Zabotel for a goal to give Gwinnett a 2-0 lead.

"The main thing is playing for each other and, when there's a lot of new faces, it's hard to basically go to battle for those new guys because you don't feel like a team, you don't feel that chemistry yet," Bowers said. "So I definitely think (Saturday) was a step in the right direction and we're just going to build from it."

The Gladiators, who trail division-leading Greenville by three points, play on the road in Trenton on Wednesday and Wheeling on Thursday. Coming back from that trip north, they play at home against Evansville on Saturday and Cincinnati on Sunday.

Gwinnett gets one more home weekend after that, then plays on the road for a month while the circus is in town.

Note: Defenseman Jon Awe, who was added to the lineup a couple of weeks ago, was claimed off waivers by South Carolina on Monday.