BY: Ray Schmitt
DULUTH, GA – The Greenville Road Warriors utilized two power play goals to take down the Gwinnett Gladiators by a 4-2 score on Saturday night at the Arena at Gwinnett Center. The win was Greenville’s first of the season and improved its record to 1-3-0.
The Road Warriors‘ power play was firing on all cylinders in the first period and allowed for Greenville to open up a 2-0 advantage. Cullen Eddy notched his first goal of the season with a slap shot from the point that beat Gwinnett goalie Jeff Jakaitis at 8:14 of the opening period. The assists on the goal went to Sam Klassen and Brett Robinson. Wes Cunningham‘s first goal of the season with five seconds left in the first doubled the Road Warriors’ advantage. Cunningham was set up by Justin Bowers in the left wing face-off circle for a wrist shot that beat Jakaitis under the crossbar. Jeff Prough also assisted on the power play tally. Nic Riopel started his first game of the season and made seven saves in the period for Greenville.
Gwinnett was able to bounce back from the late first period goal and scored twice early in the second to even the score. Nikita Kashirsky potted a power play score at 2:45 and Scott Flemming’s redirection of a point shot evened the score just two minutes later. Not wanting to fall behind, Greenville went back on the attack and picked up a goal from rookie Kale Kerbashian. His wrist shot high to the glove side whistled past Jakaitis with 7:13 left in the frame. Prough and Eddy assisted on Kerbashian’s first of the season and each earned their second point of the night. Riopel made five saves in the frame to ensure the Road Warriors took the lead into the break.
The Gladiators put forth a big comeback effort in the third period and launched 14 shots on Riopel. In his first start of the season, though, Riopel didn’t show any rust and turned away each shot he faced in the third. He had to be especially strong when Brendan Connolly’s slashing minor left the Road Warriors shorthanded with 5:30 to play. The Gladiators pulled Jakaitis for the extra attacker for the remainder of the game and kept the pressure on. They were trying to erase a two-goal deficit because Prough’s fourth goal of the season gave Greenville some insurance with 7:58 gone by in the third.
Riopel turned in 26 saves in earning his first victory of the season. Greenville went 2-for-4 on the power play and 6-for-7 on the penalty kill.
Mark your calendars! The Road Warriors take on the Florida Everblades at the BI-LO Center on October 28 at 7:35 p.m. Come out and enjoy the Spinx Friday Family Four Pack which gets you four tickets, four hot dogs, four bags of chips, and four fountain drinks for just $48. Great group seats are still available for the game. Groups of 10 or more get preferred seating and discounts off of the box office price. Fans can call 864-674-PUCK (7825) to speak to a Road Warriors ticket representative and book their group outing.