(PR) Duluth, GA, March 20, 2010 – Shades of Friday’s loss in Charlotte bled into Saturday’s contest at Gwinnett Center. The Gladiators outscored the Devils, 6-4, while serving 24 fewer penalty minutes than their frustrated opponent. Gwinnett’s league leading power play cashed in on two of eight chances, while Trenton’s only extra-man goal came in desperation time late in the third. Three goals in the first and three more in the third helped the Gladiators tie the Devils for 10th place in the hunt for the playoffs.
Dan Charleston backed up his strong performance in Charlotte (two assists) with three points against the Gladiators, including the game’s first goal. Ryan Ginand, who had missed the previous ten games because of injury, swerved through center and found Charleston heading across the blue line. Hooked from behind, Charleston still was able to guide the puck toward the goal and the puck ultimately ricocheted past goalie Danny Taylor, negating the delayed penalty but lifting the Devils to a 1-0 lead at 3:55 of the first.
Gwinnett rattled off the next three scores to take the lead for good. Matt Caruana took a bouncing puck that skipped behind the Devils defense and scored on a forehand to backhand move to tie the game, 1-1, at 7:12. Matt Francis scored the next two goals, first using a bank shot off goalie Dave Caruso’s pads from along the left goal line two seconds after a power play expired. A scrum after the goal led to a two-and-ten penalty to Trevor Kell, and Francis again capitalized with the extra-man. His wrister from the left point caught Caruso off guard, pushing the Gladiator lead to 3-1.
The Devils settled down during the intermission, starting the second frame with the same mature brand of hockey as they had displayed early in the first. Charleston moved the puck to Chris Poli going down the slot who rifled one just inside the left post for his 12th of the season. Dave Leaderer had the secondary assist and the Devils trailed, 3-2, at 4:13 of the second. Trenton survived the rest of the period, with each team managing only eight shots each, also serving three minor penalties each. On one delayed penalty against Gwinnett, the Devils appeared to have scored, but the officials waived it off, saying a Gladiator had touched it up before going in the net.
The third period unraveled for the Devils with Gwinnett scoring three goals in the first ten minutes to take control. Tom Zanoski scored on a rebound goal during a power play at 4:16 of the third for a 4-2 lead. Chris Higgins scored the Gladiators most impressive goal of the night, redirecting a drive from Phil Youngclaus at 6:41. Jason Lawrence capped Gwinnett’s scoring at 9:13 with an uncontested shorthanded goal after Slavomir Tomko turned it over by fanning on a breakout pass.
Desperate to turn things around late in the third, Trenton got two goals to make it interesting, first with Tony Zancanaro redirecting a blind whirl-around shot from Jeff Prough at 10:43 of the third. The Devils had a five-on-three power play goal in final moments, with Trevor Kell driving from the left point with assists to Tim Kunes and Charleston at 17:33. A frantic effort with an extra attacker put the pressure on Taylor and his defense, but the Devils could not close the 6-4 gap.
The Devils (28-28-4-5, 65pts) wrap up their weekend series Sunday at 4pm against the Gladiators (29-28-4-3, 65pts) with the winner moving ahead of the loser for 10th place in the American Conference.