Fort Wayne Komets slip past Gwinnett Gladiators

FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Two goals by two former Gladiators sunk Gwinnett Friday night, as the Fort Wayne Komets held on for a 2-1 win at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.

Alpharetta, Ga. native Will MacDonald scored Gwinnett’s lone goal in the third, but two rookie netminders making their pro debuts were able to hold off Gwinnett’s (25-34-3-2) attack. Matt Grogan stopped 23 of 24 shots for Fort Wayne (29-22-6-5) before leaving the game immediately after MacDonald’s goal, while Kevin Murdock stopped the four shots he faced in 11 minutes of relief. Josh Unice made 32 saves, but took the loss in his second pro start for the Gladiators.

The only goal of the first period came off the stick of Shawn Szydlowski, who beat Unice with a low wrister from the near circle on the Komets first shot of the game 2:21 in.

Fort Wayne extended its lead in the middle period. A Szydlowski shot redirected in front of the Gwinnett goal right to another former Gladiator in Mike Embach, who promptly buried the chance to push the Komet lead to 2-0.

MacDonald sliced that lead in half 8:23 into the third, tossing the puck to the front of the net and benefitting from a strange deflection off a Fort Wayne defenseman and between the legs of Grogan. Dirk Southern and Daniel Spivak had the assists. Grogan immediately headed to the Komet bench, and was replaced the rest of the way by Murdock, but Gwinnett failed to draw even.

The Gladiators are back in action Saturday at 7:15 p.m. In Toledo against the Walleye. The next home game at the Arena at Gwinnett Center is Saturday, March 29 at 7:05 p.m. against the Greenville Road Warriors.