BY: Ray Schmitt, Voice of the Greenville Road Warriors
The Greenville Road Warriors fell in their final visit to the Arena at Gwinnett Center on Saturday night as they dropped a 4-3 decision to the Gwinnett Gladiators. The defeat left Greenville’s record at 39-22-5.
After a strong finish to Friday night’s game in North Charleston, the Road Warriors channeled that momentum into the start of Saturday’s game in Gwinnett. They tacked on an early score and a late score to grab a 2-0 lead after the first. Brandon Wong put home a wraparound backhand goal 2:53 into the contest to lift Greenville in front. It was Wong’s 25th of the season and gave him 99 points for his pro career. The teams traded one power play a side in the first but neither team was able to convert. Shortly after their successful penalty kill the Road Warriors got their second goal when Kale Kerbashian whistled a wrist shot off of the glove of goalie Marc Cheverie and in. The goal came with just 21 seconds left in the stanza. Nic Riopel stopped each of the two shots he faced in the first to keep Gwinnett off of the board.
A furious Gwinnett rally in the second period left Greenville trailing for the first time in the game. But the Road Warriors found some traction late and swung momentum in their favor with a goal off of the rush. It only took Gwinnett 45 seconds to net its first score of the period when Justin Milo put one past Riopel on the power play. Nikita Kashirsky helped set up that goal then scored one of his own 47 seconds later to tie the game. After a long stretch of even play the Gladiators struck twice in quick succession again. Pat Galivan tucked one behind Riopel with 14:57 gone by and was followed by Bryan Brutlag at 16:28. Before Gwinnett could get too comfortable up by two Lee Baldwin pulled Greenville within one by tipping a Justin Bowers pass over Cheverie’s shoulder with 35 seconds to play.
The third period provided Greenville with a handful of quality opportunities to net the tying score, but Cheverie saved his best for last and stopped all 11 shots he faced. Chris McKelvie had the best chance to tie the score early on when he was sprung on a breakaway from the red line in. But Cheverie’s stick save stopped the five-hole attempt. Greenville pulled Riopel for the extra attacker with just over a minute left and when Corey Finehage went off for interference with 32 seconds to play the turkey was on the table. Wong had the best look driving to the front off the goal line from the right wing corner. Cheverie, though, denied the try with a stick save and Gwinnett milked the final few seconds off of the clock.
Riopel turned in 22 saves in taking the loss. Greenville was 0-for-3 on the power play and 1-for-2 on the penalty kill.
Mark your calendars! The Road Warriors return to the BI-LO Center for their next home game on Sunday, March 18 at 4:05 p.m. against the Cincinnati Cyclones. Join the Road Warriors for Family Fun Day. Any child 12 years old or younger can get a seat anywhere in the building for just $5! Following the game come down to the ice for a post-game skate with the Road Warriors players, it’s free to anyone who has a ticket to the game. Skates are also available to rent. There are discounted tickets and preferred seating based on availability for any group of 10 or more that books in advance. Call 864-674-PUCK (7825) to book your group outing. Visit Greenvilleroadwarriors.com for more information.