Posted: Sunday, December 15th 2013 at 11:25pm
Solar Bears burn Gladiators, 5-2
DULUTH -– Closing out a busy week, the Gwinnett Gladiators fell to their South Division foes, the Orlando Solar Bears, 5-2, Sunday afternoon at the Arena at Gwinnett Center. Playing with their third goaltender in two games this weekend, Gwinnett wasn’t able to slow down Orlando as their offense converted five of their 26 shots on net.
Both sides played a defensive oriented first as the Gladiators (7-15-0-2) defense protected their starting goaltender Matt Cooper, while the Solar Bears (15-10-0-1) played their usual tough, block out defense. It was Orlando that came out ahead after one, however, as Scott Tanski gave the Solar Bears a 1-0 lead at 9:26 off a one-timer coming from Ian Slater along the right wing half-wall. Orlando held a 7-4 shots advantage after the first 20.
Things opened up in the second as both teams registered goals on their first two shots. Gwinnett scored just 24 seconds into the period as Sacha Guimond twirled his way through the neutral zone and across the blue line, laying up for a shot at the top of the slot that bolted through John Curry’s legs for his first goal of the season. Assists went to Maxime Legault and Antoine Corbin. Two minutes later, the Gladiators continued their momentum against the off-kilter Orlando defense when Legault found an open puck against the far post and shoved it in, with assists from Devon Krogh and Brett Lyon.
From there, the Solar Bears caught their breath and bounced back to score three unanswered strikes. Zach Harrison scored one minute after Legault’s tally, and then Catenacci followed up with the go-ahead goal two minutes after that. With the newly acquired Andrew Loewen replacing Cooper in net, the Solar Bears tacked on another at 16:48 from Jacob Cepis. Despite Gwinnett holding an 11-7 shot advantage for the second, it was Orlando that had a 3-2 goal advantage, giving them a 4-2 overall lead after 40 minutes.
Orlando scored the lone goal in the third when former Gladiator Tyler Murovich received a back door pass from Blake Kessel, and slipped it in the net at 2:55. The Gladiators outshot the Solar Bears for the second straight period to finish with 28 shots to Orlando’s 26.
Loewen, who came into Duluth early Sunday morning after playing Saturday night with the Columbus Cottonmouths of the Southern Professional Hockey League in Huntsville, Alabama, stopped 14 of the 16 shots he faced, while Matt Cooper, who won Friday’s game against South Carolina in relief of injured goaltender Peter Delmas, made seven saves on 10 shots in the first 25 minutes of play.
The Gladiators have one more home game before Christmas, when they host the South Carolina Stingrays for the second time in three games, on Friday,December 20th at 7:05 P.M. To purchase tickets, please visit www.gwinnettgladiators.com or call the front office at 770-497-5100.
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