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Gladiators reclaim first place in shootout

WHEELING, W.Va. -- Justin Bowers tied the game in the third, three former Nailers found the back of the net in the shootout, and the Gwinnett Gladiators reclaimed first place in the South Division with a 3-2 win over the Wheeling Nailers at WesBanco Arena.

With Greenville's loss at home against Toledo, Gwinnett (30-18-2-1) surges back into first place with 63 points.

Coyotes prospect Mike Lee remained a perfect 13-for-13 in shootouts this season between the ECHL and AHL while stopping 30 shots. He has allowed three goals or less in six straight games for the Gladiators.

In the shootout Lee turned aside all three Wheeling (21-17-3-6) shooters, while Casey Pierro-Zabotel, Alex Belzile, and Joey Haddad rounded out rounds two through four with goals to give Gwinnett the extra point.

Pierro-Zabotel stunned his former team just 3:03 into the game, as he picked the pocket of a Nailers defenseman and beat Wheeling goalie Peter Delmas five-hole with a low backhander for the shorthanded tally. It was the first short-handed goal Wheeling had allowed at home all season, and the Gladators held a 1-0 lead through 20 minutes.

After a scoreless second period the offenses came alive in the third. Peter Lenes (8) at 3:37 and Jordy Trottier (1) just 61 seconds late put Wheeling ahead for the first time at 2-1.

Gwinnett was able to draw even thanks to Bowers. Joey Haddad flung the puck toward the Wheeling goal from the high mid-slot, and Bowers tipped it past Delmas to even the score at two at 12:44. Belzile tacked on the additional assist.

A scoreless overtime session that featured a successful Gwinnett penalty kill gave way to the shootout, where Lee and company took over.

The Gladiators managed to kill off all six Wheeling powerplay chances, but were unable to capitalize on two of their own.