Gwinnett Gladiators Josh Currie (6) celebrates the game-tying goal with teammates Devon Krogh (17) and Joey Haddad (17) on Friday at the Arena at Gwinnett Center. (Photo: Amanda Hertel)
DULUTH — Josh Currie stuffed in a game-tying rebound with only 2:12 left in regulation sending the second of three consecutive games between Gwinnett and Evansville to overtime and eventually a shootout where the Gladiators fell 2-1 on Friday.
It was the first shootout loss of the season for Gwinnett (6-12-0-1), which guaranteed itself a point by getting the late goal, but was unable to score in the overtime period or on four attempts in the shootout. The IceMen (9-4-0-3) connected on two of four shots in the shootout.
“What I like most about that game tonight was getting that goal late and getting a point,” Gwinnett head coach Rick Emmett said. “The best thing about it was how we went about it. We weren’t trying to hit home runs or trying to cheat our way to get the next goal.”
The ECHL handed out fines to five total players from the two teams as a result of the melee that followed the final horn of the 3-0 win for the Gladiators on Thursday night. Friday the first period was free of a single penalty or any noticeable effect from the situation, but was also free of any scoring.
The IceMen broke the scoreless tie at 5:12 of the second period when Josh Beaulieu snuck a rebound past Gwinnett goalie Louis Domingue. The power-play goal came after Nathan Martine was tagged with the first penalty of the game for slashing. It was only the second goal the Gladiators have allowed in their last 33 penalty kills.
“At that time, with how strong we’ve been at that, you’re expecting we’re going to kill it.” Emmett said of the IceMen power play goal. “It’s a man advantage and sometimes that’s just going to happen so you just have to move on from it.”
Domingue turned away 14 of 15 shots in the second and late in the period the Gladiators came to life, just missing on several chances to even the score. Gwinnett only managed 12 shots in the period, but spent the majority of the closing minutes peppering Evansville goalie Garrett Bartus. That included a breakaway by Philippe Halley with just over a minute to play, but he was unable to put away the equalizer.
The third period opened the same way the second ended with the Gladiators attacking the Evansville zone and putting shots on goal.
“Part of the game plan is to wear them down a little bit,” Emmett said “As the game goes on and we stick with that plan, we are able to build and generate more.”
The Gladiators were getting close to pulling Domingue for a man advantage as time was winding down before Currie tied the game.
Domingue had another solid performance stopping 31 of 32 shots he faced, but he gave up goals to Jeremy Langlois and Daultan Leveille in the shootout. Bartus had 33 saves and was perfect in the shootout.
The two teams have today off before meeting again Sunday afternoon at 2:05 for the rubber match of the series.