Posted: Saturday, February 22nd 2014 at 12:00am
Gwinnett drops home stand opener to Reading
By staff reports
DULUTH -Ė Returning home for the first time in almost three weeks, the Gwinnett Gladiators dropped the opening game of their seven game homestand to the Reading Royals, 4-2 on Friday night. Bobby Hughes and Casey Pierro-Zabotel scored for the Gladiators (18-28-2-2), while Josh Brittain scored the game-winning goal for Reading (29-18-1-1) in addition to his two assists.
Looking to jump on the top team in the Atlantic Division, the Gladiators took an early 1-0 lead when Hughes slammed home a loose puck in the scrum around Riley Gill in the crease after a strong zone entry from Maxime Legault at 11:57. From there, Reading tiled the ice in their favor, resulting in the tying goal with less than a minute left in the period. Ryan Cruthers and T.J. Syners set up defenseman Brett Flemming with an open net with snappy tic-tac-toe passing.
In the second period, the defending Kelly Cup champions stormed ahead with two additional goals and a 14-to-6 shot advantage. At 7:36, Josh Brittain left a gorgeous set up on a blind backhand pass for Domenic Monardo, who also had an open net to Mathieu Corbeilís far side while both sides were 4-on-4. Ten minutes later, Brittain had an open net for himself on the far side goal line after a ringing shot off the post by Cruthers, and buried the power play goal to give Reading a 3-1 lead to end the second.
Gwinnett proved to be resilient in the third period, outshooting Reading 8-to-6, but Pierro-Zabotelís goal at 16:17 was too little, too late. Brandon Blandina scored just five minutes earlier to make it 4-1 in favor of the visitors. Gill was effective in net for the Royals, stopping 25-of-27, while Corbeil was 24-for-28 on the night.
Both sides will square off again tomorrow night at the Arena at Gwinnett Center for Puck Dynasty Night. Fans can purchase a voucher for a $5 mesh replica jersey, designed in the same style as the artic camouflage jerseys the Gladiators are sporting all this weekend. To purchase tickets, please visit www.gwinnettgladiators.com, or call the main office line at 770-497-5100.
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