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Power play goals sink Gladiators

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Two special teams goals in the third lifted the Orlando Solar Bears over the Gwinnett Gladiators 4-2 Friday night in front of 7,448 fans at the Amway Center.

Despite the loss, Gwinnett (33-23-2-1) remains in first place in the South Division with 69 points.

Orlando's (25-27-2-3) special teams took over in the third, as a Mathew Sisca power play goal at 7:15 and a Ryan Cruthers shorthanded goal at 17:28 pushed the Solar Bears to their first win over the Gladiators at the Amway Center. Gwinnett is 4-1 in Orlando this season and 7-2 overall against the Bears.

Goaltender Jody O'Neill made 24 saves in his second start as a Gladiator, but suffered his first pro loss. Patrick Killeen stopped 26 shots for the Solar Bears.

Much as he did Thursday night, Coyotes prospect Evan Bloodoff opened the scoring in the first period. 6:03 in the forward let a wrist shot loose from the mid slot that beat Killeen high for a 1-0 Gladiators lead. Ryan Donald assisted on the tally, which extended Bloodoff's scoring streak to three games.

Orlando came back with the next two goals in the middle period. Sisca (4:53) and Michael Wilson (12:13) put the Bears up 2-1, but the Gladiators answered inside the last minute.

The ECHL league leader in points, Casey Pierro-Zabotel, sniped a shot from the near faceoff dot on the power play with 52.8 to go in the second to tie the game. Pierro-Zabotel's 18th goal of the season was assisted by defenseman Sacha Guimond.