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Gladiators drop second straight to Everblades

Photo: Amanda Hertel
Gwinnett Gladiators forward Casey Pierro-Zabotel is held off by Florida's Todd Pococke (#21) and netminder Rob Madore during Sunday's game. Madore made 39 saves in the Everblades 3-1 win at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

Photo: Amanda Hertel Gwinnett Gladiators forward Casey Pierro-Zabotel is held off by Florida's Todd Pococke (#21) and netminder Rob Madore during Sunday's game. Madore made 39 saves in the Everblades 3-1 win at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

DULUTH — Rob Madore made 39 saves and the Florida Everblades swept a set of two games in Gwinnett with a 3-1 win on Sunday.

The goalie that controversially helped eliminate the Gladiators from the playoffs last season while playing for South Carolina faced 81 shots in the two games and picked up four big points for the Everblades. Madore was crucial down the stretch Sunday with Gwinnett trailing by two goals and pressing hard. The Gladiators peppered the netminder to no avail and lost for the second straight day to their division rivals.

Now it's on to Florida where the two teams will meet Tuesday in the first of 10 straight road games for Gwinnett.

The Gladiators (32-21-2-1, 67 points) go from Estero, Fla., to Orlando for a pair of games later in the week. They headed out immediately after Sunday's game, facing a long bus ride to absorb a loss that came despite significant stretches of good play.

Gwinnett paid the price for getting stuck in its own zone for an extended period. Florida corralled a bouncing puck and found Matthew Pistilli in front. Pistilli snapped it past goalie Nick Niedert 6:07 into the first period.

But the Gladiators got it back at 10:14 of the first period on a blistering shot from Joey Haddad in the high slot. Haddad got a centering feed from Casey Pierro-Zabotel at the end boards and ripped it past Madore to tie it 1-1.

The ever-opportunistic Everblades (27-17-4-5, 63 points) broke open a 3-1 lead on a pair of goals late in the second period.

The Gladiators had good control of things through more than half of the period. But during 4-on-4 play, Florida took advantage after a rush for Gwinnett was defused by Madore. The Everblades raced back the other way with numbers and Mike Ratchuk zipped a cross-ice feed to Aaron Bogosian on the far post. Bogosian went backhand-to-forehand and beat Niedert at 14:56.

Less than 90 seconds later, the Everblades got in ahead of the rush again and Corey Trivino was awarded a penalty shot. Trivino slipped a shot under Niedert for a 3-1 lead at 16:22.