FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- Coyotes prospect Evan Bloodoff and defenseman Cody Brookwell found the back of the net, but a slow start haunted the Gwinnett Gladiators in a 4-2 loss to the Fort Wayne Komets on Wednesday night at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.
Despite controlling play through much of the second half of the game, Fort Wayne (17-14-1-1) pulled away for good late in the third. Corey Elkins shot in over the Gwinnett (22-12-1-0) blue line, forced his way to the slot and tipped the puck through the legs of goalie Louis Domingue for what proved to be the winning marker. Kaleigh Schrock tacked on an empty-netter for the 4-2 final.
Domingue dropped just his second start in his last twelve, but the Gladiators remain in first place in the South Division with 45 points and a game-in-hand over the second place Road Warriors.
Elkins finished with a goal and an assist in his Fort Wayne season debut, while Luca Caputi racked up three assists. Marco Cousineau notched the win in his first appearance for the Komets since November 3rd. This was the final meeting of the regular season between the two teams, with the Komets prevailing in three of the five games.
The Gladiators were slow to start in the opening period, and forward Thomas Beauregard helped the Komets to a two-goal edge through 20 minutes, as he buried the 99th and 100th tallies of his ECHL career at 8:00 and 13:56.
The Gladiators pulled even with two goals of their own in the second period. Bloodoff kick-started the offense with a tremendous effort at 14:19, as he stepped around a Komet defenseman on a one-on-one break and backhanded a shot over the glove of Cousineau for an unassisted tally.
Gwinnett tied the game at 2-2 thanks to some nifty passing. With a delayed penalty called on the Komets, Alex Belzile drew the defense to his position in the near faceoff circle and put a pass across the slot right on the tape of Brookwell, who hammered it into the vacant net with just 8.6 seconds left in the stanza. Scott Arnold had the second assist.
Gwinnett returns home on Friday, playing host to the South Carolina Stingrays at 7:35 p.m.