Gladiators start new year with loss in Ft. Wayne

FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- Phoenix prospect Evan Bloodoff and defenseman Cody Brookwell found the back of the net, but a slow start haunted the Gwinnett Gladiators in a 4-2 loss to the Fort Wayne Komets on Wednesday night.

Despite controlling play through much of the second half of the game, the Gladiators gave up a late goal to Fort Wayne (17-14-1-1). Corey Elkins shot in over the Gwinnett (22-12-1-0) blue line, forced his way to the slot and tipped the puck through the legs of goalie Louis Domingue for what proved to be the winning marker with four minutes left in the third. Kaleigh Schrock tacked on an empty-netter for the 4-2 final.

Domingue lost just his second start in his last 12, but the Gladiators remain in first place in the South Division with 45 points and a game-in-hand over second place Greenville.

Elkins finished with a goal and an assist in his Fort Wayne season debut, while Luca Caputi racked up three assists. Marco Cousineau notched the win in his first appearance for the Komets since Nov. 3.

Forward Thomas Beauregard helped the Komets to a 2-0 lead, as he buried the 99th and 100th tallies of his ECHL career at 8:00 and 13:56 of the first period.

Gwinnett pulled even with two goals late in the second period. Bloodoff kick-started the offense with a tremendous effort at 14:19 as he stepped around a Komet defenseman on a one-on-one break and backhanded a shot over the glove of Cousineau for an unassisted tally.

Gwinnett tied the game at 2-2 thanks to some nifty passing. With a delayed penalty called on the Komets, Alex Belzile drew the defense to his position in the near faceoff circle and put a pass across the slot right on the tape of Brookwell, who hammered it into the vacant net with just 8.6 seconds left in the period.

The Gladiators, who were 2-1 on this road trip, return home Friday to play South Carolina at 7:35 p.m.

Pierro-Zabotel to start for ECHL All-Stars

Gladiators forward Casey Pierro-Zabotel was selected as a starter for the ECHL All-Star Game.

Pierro-Zabotel, in his third ECHL season, has a team-high 37 points in 34 games this year.