Posted: Friday, March 7th 2014 at 9:53pm
Guggenberger backstops Gladiators to 3-2 Win
By staff reports
ESTERO, FLORIDA -– Mark Guggenberger made 34 saves, and Rob Kwiet scored the eventual winner in the third to lift the Gwinnett Gladiators over the Florida Everblades 3-2 Friday night at Germain Arena.
Guggenberger made several stellar stops, especially in the third period with Florida pressing. It was the fourth straight meeting for the Gladiators against the Blades, and the two sides will meet again for the final time this season Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. in Florida.
Gwinnett jumped ahead 9:43 into the first, as Joey Haddad extended his scoring streak to six games with a snipe from the near side over the shoulder of Florida goalie Mac Carruth, with Evan Bloodoff and Dirk Southern assisting.
Florida drew even on a Mike Merrifield point shot that found its way through traffic at 14:59, but the Gladiators had an immediate answer.
48 seconds after Merrifield’s goal, Southern maneuvered his way to the near circle in the Everblades zone and wristed a shot low far-side past Carruth for a 2-1 Gwinnett lead. Eric Springer and Haddad had the helpers.
The score stayed at 2-1 through 40 minutes, and in the third Rob Kwiet provided Gwinnett with some much needed breathing room. The defenseman stepped in from the far point, and ripped a one-timer off a fantastic feed from Casey Pierro-Zabotel over the right shoulder of Carruth for a 3-1 Gladiators lead at 13:41. The power play tally was also assisted by Marshall Everson.
Florida would cut that lead back to one only 44 seconds later. Danick Gauthier placed a point shot past a screened Guggenberger, but the Blades would get no closer.
Late in regulation Florida captain Mathieu Roy ran over Guggenberger in the Gwinnett crease, leading to a quick scrum between the two. Roy was penalized for goaltender interference, hampering the Everblades efforts to tie in the final minute.
The Gladiators are members of the ECHL, the nation’s premier "AA" hockey league and are affiliated with the Phoenix Coyotes of the NHL. All home games are played at the 11,355-seat Arena at Gwinnett Center, located just off I-85 on Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth.
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