Defensive mistakes doom Gladiators in 4-3 loss to Orlando

DULUTH -- The Gwinnett defense had three giveaways within 15 feet of its net.

Orlando scored on them all.

By the third time, goalie Louis Domingue couldn't contain his emotions.

The Solar Bears broke open a tie game with three goals in the second period and beat the Gladiators 4-3 on Friday night. Two of those second-period scores came off defensive breakdowns and Domingue boiled over.

When Mathew Sisca, alone in the slot, ripped his second goal over Domingue at 18:48 of the second, the rookie goalie smashed his stick on the ice and threw half of it down the ice.

The reaction earned Domingue a minor for unsportsmanlike conduct and a 10-minute misconduct.

But he remained in the game with only an emergency backup goalie on the bench after Mike Lee was called up to AHL Portland a day earlier and didn't let in another puck.

The Gladiators scored twice in the third, getting within a goal in the final 90 seconds, but weren't able to overcome the earlier mistakes.

Gwinnett lost for the fifth time in six games and looked no more cohesive a lineup than at the beginning of this week in a 4-1 loss to division-leading Greenville.

The Gladiators were tied 1-1 after exchanging power-play goals with Orlando in the first period before things unraveled.

The Solar Bears opened the scoring on the first of several egregious giveaways. Domingue went behind the net to play a puck, collided with one of the Solar Bears and the puck skittered along the end boards. Defenseman Corey Fienhage attempted to clear it from near the post and dished it right to Sisca.

Sisca, who was denied by Domingue on a penalty shot earlier in the game, dumped it into a wide-open net at 13:23.

Gwinnett's lowly power-play, ranked 21st in the league, found an answer, with 48 seconds left in the period.

Captain Andy Brandt sent a cross-ice feed to Casey Pierro-Zabotel on the half wall. Pierro-Zabotel quickly centered it to Joey Haddad, who was on top of the crease. Haddad lifted it past goalie John Curry for a 1-1 tie.

The second period was all Orlando.

Chris Lawrence was the next recipient of a pass from the Gladiators' defense. He was in the slot and put the puck in the far top corner at 8:02.

Sisca set up Ryan Cruthers on a 2-on-1 play, which developed because a big hit by C.J. Severyn on Fienhage at the blue line created a turnover, at 12:39.

Sisca capped the second-period steamroll with his second unassisted goal of the game at 18:48.

The Gladiators mounted a third-period comeback, started with a heavy wrister from the blue line by Sacha Guimond. On the power play, Alex Belzile dished it to the defenseman and his shot found its way through traffic in front at 6:52.

With Domingue pulled for an extra attacker, Pierro-Zabotel whipped a cross-ice pass to Justin Bowers on the opposite side. Bowers, who recently joined the team in a trade with San Francisco, powered it past Curry at 18:48. But Gwinnett couldn't get the equalizer.