Record Starts Have Gladiators, Wildcatters In First Place

Record-setting starts have Gwinnett and Texas leading the ECHL and the South Division with identical 8-1-1 records and 17 points after the first four weeks of the season.

The Gladiators were 7-2-1 after 10 games in their inaugural season in 2003-04 and again in 2005-06. The Wildcatters, who were 6-2-2 after 10 games a year ago, have set team records with seven consecutive wins and six road wins.

In the first of seven regular season meetings between the two, Texas won 5-4 in a shootout on Saturday. Khudobin had 51 saves in regulation, including 23 in the second period, and eight in overtime before stopping four of five in the shootout. Texas eliminated Gwinnett from the 2007 Kelly Cup Playoffs in four games, including back-to-back overtime wins at home to end the series.

The Wildcatters will host Elmira on Friday, Saturday and Sunday while Gwinnett will host South Carolina on Friday.

Texas is third in the league in scoring with 4.10 goals per game and fourth in goals allowed with 2.40 per game while Gwinnett is third in goals against with 2.30 per game and fourth in goals scored with 4.00 per game.

The Gladiators lead the ECHL with 19 power-play goals and are fourth on the power play at 23.2 percent while the two are tied on the penalty kill at 87.3 percent. Gwinnett has led the ECHL on the power play each of the last two seasons, scoring a league record 120 power-play goals last season after having 114 in 2005-06, which ranks third all time.

Texas rookie Anton Khudobin, who is under contract to the Minnesota Wild of the National Hockey League, is 4-0-1 with a shutout and leads the ECHL with a goals-against average of 1.51 and a save percentage of .952. Gwinnett’s Craig Kowalski is 6-1-1 with a goals-against average of 1.98 and a save percentage of .928. Peter Aubry of the Wildcatters is 4-1-0 with a shutout, a goals-against average of 2.79 and a save percentage of .898 while Gwinnett’s Dan Turple is 2-0-0 with a goals-against average of 3.00 and a save percentage of .900.

Dirk Southern of Gwinnett has the longest point streak in the ECHL this season at nine games (4g-6a) while teammate Lou Dickenson has a seven-game point streak (4g-6a).

John McNabb of the Wildcatters is tied for the ECHL lead with nine goals, six power-play and 15 points in 10 games while Jonathan Paiement, who was called up to the American Hockey League by Rockford on Nov. 8, leads the league in plus-minus rating with +9. Jim Jackson of Gwinnett is tied for second in plus-minus rating with +8.

Gwinnett has had 22 different players score in the first 10 games, including Kowalski, while there have been 20 players on Texas who have a point.