Gladiators fall again, still seeking first victory

ORLANDO — For the second straight day the Orlando Solar Bears jumped out to an early lead and didn’t look back, as they knocked off the Gwinnett Gladiators 4-1 Sunday afternoon at the Amway Center in a physical, penalty-filled contest.

The teams combined for 108 penalty minutes, with Gwinnett accounting for 58. Maple Leafs prospect Christopher Gibson stopped 21 of 22 shots, while defenseman Cody Wild racked up a goal and two assists for the Solar Bears (2-2). Coyotes prospect Chris Rawlings took the loss for Gwinnett (0-4), with Evan Bloodoff scoring the lone marker for the Gladiators.

Gwinnett finished 0-for-6 on the man advantage, while Orlando went 2-for-10. The Solar Bears have now killed off all 23 opposing power plays through four games this season.

Just as they did the night before, the Solar Bears picked up the first two goals on Sunday. Mike Ullrich beat Rawlings high glove-side with a wrister from the near circle just 23 seconds into the game on the power play. Wild added a tally at 18:50 to push the Bears edge to 2-0 through 20 minutes.

Bloodoff’s first goal of the season got Gwinnett back within one. Kirill Tulupov took a big slapper from the near point that shot off Gibson’s right pad and to Bloodoff at the far circle. The Gladiators forward then beat Gibson with a quick top shelf shot to make it a 2-1 game at 4:29. Keven Veilleux had the second assist.

Orlando answered back with two more goals though, and chased Rawlings. An Eric Baier power play goal at 16:03, and a Zach Harrison tally at 18:13 made it a 4-1 game into the third. Rawlings finished with 14 saves on 18 shots. Louis Domigue stopped all nine shots he faced in relief.

Gwinnett next hosts the Solar Bears at the Arena at Gwinnett Center on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m.