ESTERO, Fla. -- A line brawl broke out late in the third period Friday night at Germain Arena, as the Gwinnett Gladiators handled the Florida Everblades 5-2.
The Gladiators (35-23-2-1) snapped a four-game losing streak against the Everblades (28-20-4-6) while padding their lead atop the South Division.
The massive altercation started after Florida defenseman Brent Henley was assessed a penalty for shoving Gwinnett defenseman Justin Weller. Henley then skated across the ice to try to fight Weller, before taking a quick slash from Gwinnett goalie Jody O'Neill. Henley then grabbed O'Neill and started throwing punches, with Tyson Gimblett also jumping in and throwing punches from behind at the Gwinnett goaltender.
Florida goalie Pat Nagle then skated down the ice to challenge O'Neill, as every skater on the ice battled. Florida defenseman Dan Milan skated back out on to the ice from the tunnel to the locker room to challenge Ryan Donald to a fight before being separated by officials.
As of Friday night, 46 penalty minutes were handed to Florida as a direct result of the scrum, with Nagle, Henley, and Gimblett getting misconducts. Gwinnett came out of it with 32 penalty minutes, and misconducts for O'Neill and Donald. Florida took 66 penalty minutes in total over the course of the game while going 0-for-6 on the power play, while Gwinnett took 48 and went 0-for-4.
Defenseman Cody Brookwell opened the scoring just 1:56 into the game, blasting a slapper under the blocker of Florida goalie Rob Madore from the near circle. Yuri Bouharevich and Tristin Llewellyn had the assists on Brookwell's fifth goal, and that lead stood through one period.
Gwinnett's offense erupted in the second period. At the 8:57 mark Coyotes prospect Scott Arnold took an Evan Bloodoff feed at the near circle and beat a screened Madore over the right shoulder for a 2-0 Gladiators lead. Casey Pierro-Zabotel had the second assist.
Former Everblade defenseman Ryan Donald added to the lead at 10:34. His point shot ricocheted off a Florida player in front and under Madore with Bloodoff and Pierro-Zabotel again assisting. Madore was pulled for Pat Nagle, but the Florida move between the pipes would hardly matter.
Just 22 seconds later, Evan Bloodoff stepped into the mid-slot, and ripped a wrister past Nagle to put the score at 4-0. Sacha Guimond and Brookwell had the helpers, and the Gladiators were in control through two periods.
Corey Trivino and Aaron Bogosian scored in the third for Florida, but the comeback bid was thwarted by a Joey Haddad empty-netter at 17:46.
O'Neill finished with 41 saves for the Gladiators, while Madore stopped nine of 12 and Nagle turned aside ten of 11 shots in relief of Madore.
The two teams will meet for the final time in the regular season Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. at Germain Arena.