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Gladiators rally to beat 'Rays in high-scoring clash

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — Trailing 4-3 in the third period against the top team in the ECHL, the Gwinnett Gladiators rallied for three unanswered goals to knock off the South Carolina Stingrays 6-4 on Tuesday night at North Charleston Coliseum.

Coyotes prospect Justin Weller tied the game at 4-4 at the 13:31 mark, beating Rays goaltender Brooks Ostergard with a high shot from the near circle with Josh Currie and Mike Embach assisting.

Embach then put Gwinnett (5-10) ahead for good thanks to a gaffe from Ostergard. The goaltender handled the puck behind his net and passed it straight to Embach in the far circle. The Gladiators forward spun around and slapped a backhander into the vacant net to give Gwinnett its fourth one-goal lead of the night.

Evan Bloodoff potted an empty-netter in the final minute for his team-leading sixth goal of the season to ice the game. Gwinnett outshot South Carolina 14-6 in the third period.

Peter Delmas made 29 saves to pick up his third win as a Gladiator, while Ostergard was saddled with the loss, making 23 stops in his first start with the Stingrays (10-2-1-1).

The Gladiators are next in action on Friday in Greenville, before returning home on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at the Arena at Gwinnett Center against the Road Warriors.

Kurtis Bartliff put Gwinnett ahead 1-0 through one period with his fifth tally of the season. A shot snuck past Ostergard and, after initially being knocked away from the goal line, was hammered in by Bartliff. Marshall Everson and Daniel Spivak had the assists.

Delmas stood tall between the pipes on the first period for Gwinnett, helping preserve the lead despite the Gladiators being outshot 19-6 in the opening 20 minutes.

Both offenses came to life in the second period. Peter Boyd tied the game 1-1 just 2:32 into the second, but Gwinnett regained the lead as Everson tucked a rebound under Ostergard at 10:13 on the power play from Bloodoff and Jonathan Narbonne. A mere 45 seconds later, Boyd again brought South Carolina even.

The Gladiators responded, grabbing a 3-2 lead 55 seconds after Boyd’s second goal. Maxime Legault tucked a big bounce off the end wall past Ostergard on the near side. The Rays again came back to tie though, with Marc Hagel tying the game at 3-3 at 18:33.