Posted: Friday, December 27th 2013 at 10:19pm
Gladiators hammer Nailers
By staff reports
DULUTH -– In their final home game in 2013, the Gwinnett Gladiators picked up where they left off the night before, scoring early and keeping up the offense for a full 60 minutes as they defeated the Wheeling Nailers, 4-1, at the Arena at Gwinnett Center on Friday. It was the first game against an Atlantic Division opponent for the Gladiators (9-17-0-2) this season.
The Gladiators set the tempo early in the game with one of their strongest opening periods of the season as they outshot the Nailers (14-8-0-5), 13 to 4. They also scored the game’s first goal for the second straight night when Evan Bloodoff redirected a Rob Kwiet shot on the doorstep of the net at 2:56 of the first.
In the second, it was more of the same as the Gladiators continued on for 14 shots to Wheeling’s 6, with most of the Nailers shots coming in the final five minutes of the period. Joey Haddad scored his third goal of the season at 12:26 on the power play, with assists coming from Dirk Southern and Josh Currie, to give the Gladiators a 2-0 lead.
The Nailers showed life in the third period when Mike Ratchuk scored his team high eighth goal of the season at 5:19 on the power play, but Gwinnett ounced back with two more goals, both from defenseman Rob Kwiet. On the first at 10:51, Kwiet took a centering pass from Antoine Corbin – who scored two of his own last night – and rifled a power play slapper past Alex Westlund. On the second at 19:57, Kwiet heaved an impressive cross-ice shot from the defensive goal line, all the way down the length of the net, and into the empty net.
Karpowich stopped 19-of-20 in his first win of the season, while Westlund was 32-of-35. It was an emergency spot start for the 37-year-old veteran Westlund, who was making his first professional start in seven years.
Up next, the Gladiators will embark on their first major road trip of the season this weekend as they travel up toIndiana for games against the Fort Wayne Komets on Sunday the 29th, and the Evansville IceMen on New Year’s Eve. The next home game at the Arena at Gwinnett Center will be on January 2nd when they host the South Carolina Stingrays for a special 2:05 P.M. matinee game.
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