Gladiators surge to top of Eastern Conference
Winning three games in three nights last week, the Gwinnett Gladiators have moved into a tie with Kalamazoo for the most points in the Eastern Conference. Gwinnett enters the week 13-8-8 for 34 points, and enjoys a three-point lead over Greenville for first place in the South Division.
Gwinnett opened last week with a 4-2 home win against Florida on Thursday. Cody Brookwell broke a 2-2 tie with his first goal of the season midway through the third period and Chris Clackson scored an insurance goal with just under four minutes remaining.
On Friday, the Gladiators traveled to South Carolina and skated away with a 2-1 win over the Stingrays. Bryan Brutlag assisted on both Gwinnett goals while Clackson notched the eventual game-winning goal seven minutes into the final period. Jeff Jakaitis stopped 29 of 30 South Carolina shots to record the win in goal.
The Gladiators ended the week with another low-scoring game on Saturday, downing South Carolina 1-0. Will Colbert scored the lone goal of the contest less than a minute into the third period and Jakaitis notched his second shutout of the season with 23 saves.
Gwinnett boasts a balanced offense as no Gladiator ranks in the top 24 in the league in scoring. Joey Haddad paces the club with 11 goals and 26 points while seven others on the team have double digit point totals.
Jakaitis, who is 5-1-1 in his last seven appearances, has been solid between the pipes for the Gladiators, as he is tied for the league lead with a .941 save percentage, is tied for second with two shutouts and is third with a 1.90 goals-against average.
Gwinnett has surged to the top of the conference standings despite playing just 11 home games, the second fewest among all Eastern Conference teams. The Gladiators are 8-4-6 on the road, and their eight road wins are tied for the most in the ECHL.
The Gladiators are in action once this week, as they wrap up their three-game series in South Carolina against the Stingrays tomorrow. Gwinnett will open a five-game home stand next Monday against South Carolina.