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Gwinnett prevails in willd offensive battle

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Evan Bloodoff picked up what would prove to be the game-winning goal in the third, and the Gwinnett Gladiators knocked off the Kalamazoo Wings 5-4 in a wild offensive slugfest Friday night at Wings Stadium.

Marshall Everson finished with two goals and an assist, while Coyotes prospect Brenden Walker tacked on two helpers of his own. With the win, Gwinnett (15-22-0-2) snapped Kalamazoo’s (19-14-1-2) six-game home regulation unbeaten streak.

Heading into the third up 4-3, Bloodoff capitalized on a turnover in the K-Wings zone, roofing a backdoor feed from Dirk Southern to push Gwinnett ahead 5-3 at the 2:31 mark. Matt Caria would cut the lead in half at 8:06, but that was as close as the Wings would get.

Brad Phillips made 25 saves for the Gladiators,while Joel Martin took the loss when surrendering all five goals on 36 shots.

The K-Wings drew first blood, with Justin Taylor tucking home a backdoor pass on the power play just under five minutes into the game. That was it for the scoring in the opening period despite the Gladiators outshooting the Wings 18-10.

The onslaught of offense started in the middle period, with Josh Currie tying the game at 1-1 with a nasty snipe over the glove of Martin with Walker assisting at 1:21.

Kalamazoo took a 2-1 lead at 4:02 thanks to a shorthanded goal by Chris Lawrence, but Gwinnett again drew even at 8:44.

Everson took a drop pass from Casey Pierro-Zabotel, and ripped a shot from the mid-slot past Martin to make it a 2-2 game.

Yannick Veilleux pushed the see-saw battle the Wings’ way, cashing in on a 2-on-0 chance for a 3-2 Kalamazoo edge 10:31 into the second.

The Gladiators bounced right back for the next two goals. 51 seconds after Veilleux’s go-ahead goal, Antoine Corbin tied the game at 3-3 with a blast from the far point. Maxime Legault and Brett Lyon had the helpers.

Forty-nine seconds after that, Everson cracked a Walkercross-ice feed by Martin for his second tally of the night and a 4-3 Gwinnett lead through 40 minutes.

Gwinnett is now 12-0 when leading after two periods of play. The same two teams meet up today at 7:30 p.m. at Wings Stadium.