BY: Ray Schmitt, Voice of the Greenville Road Warriors
The Greenville Road Warriors scored five unanswered goals to take down the division-leading Gwinnett Gladiators by a 6-3 score on Tuesday night at the BI-LO Center. The win improved Greenville’s record to 30-18-3 on the season.
The first period began with some physical fireworks quickly followed by offensive fireworks. Just six seconds into the game, Gwinnett’s Tyler Murovich instigated a fight with Brandon Wong and simultaneously T.J. Reynolds dropped the mitts with Ryley Grantham. The Road Warriors were awarded the power play, but could not convert and the game remained scoreless until Justin Milo gave Gwinnett the 1-0 lead at the 4:20 mark. That lead was short lived as Sean Berkstresser tied it for Greenville a minute and nine seconds later. Gwinnett broke the tie with Bryan Brutlag finishing off an 2-on-1 with 5:22 remaining in the stanza. The goalies were busy in the frame as Gwinnett’s Joe Palmer faced eight shots and Greenville’s Jason Missiaen saw nine.
Greenville was able to exorcise some of its second period demons from earlier this season by tallying twice in the middle frame to swipe the lead away from Gwinnett. Persistence in front of the net led to the Road Warriors’ first goal of the frame with Marc-Olivier Vallerand swatting a rebound through the legs of Palmer. The goal came just 3:38 into the period and was Vallerand’s team-leading 25th of the season. The teams remained deadlocked for much of the rest of the period until Brandon Wong banked a shot off of Palmer from behind the net, with Greenville on the power play, at the 19:08 mark. Brendan Connolly had a pair of assists in the frame to extend his point streak to a team-record 13 games while Missiaen turned in 17 saves in the period.
The Road Warriors kept the momentum rolling in the third period with three goals that allowed them to coast to the win down the home stretch. Brett Robinson provided the quick strike to begin the onslaught as he struck for a breakaway goal 3:28 into the stanza. Justin Bowers picked up the primary assist by connecting with Robinson on a pretty stretch pass. After a stretch of back-and-forth action, Jyri Niemi scored his second goal in as many games with a blast from the point with Greenville on the power play. His fifth of the season gave Greenville a 5-2 lead with just under four minutes to play. Vallerand potted his second goal of the night by hitting an empty net with a minute and 15 seconds to play to cap Greenville’s scoring. Tyler Murovich pull Gwinnett within three 14 seconds after Vallerand’s goal, but the Gladiators could pull no closer.
Missiaen stopped 32 shots in earning his 12th win of the season. The Road Warriors were 2-for-6 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.
Mark your calendars! The Road Warriors return home on Friday, February 17, 2012 to take on the Toledo Walleye. Friday is Road Warriors For Your Cause and $2 from every ticket sold to a group of 10 or more will be donated back to that group’s charity of choice. Any group of 10 or more gets discounts off the box office price and preferred seating based on availability. Call 864-674-PUCK (7825) to book your group outing with the Road Warriors. Fridays also feature the Spinx Family Four-Pack where you can get four tickets, hot dogs, bags of chips, and fountain drinks for $48. Also, please note that the Road Warriors game scheduled for March 1 has been moved to Saturday, March 3 at 7:05 p.m. at the BI-LO Center. Visit Greenvilleroadwarriors.com for more information.