GLENDALE – Several Coyotes prospects are looking to add more postseason experience to their resumes as they and their Gwinnett Gladiators teammates embark on a best-of-seven second-round series against Cincinnati in the ECHL Playoffs starting today.
After helping push Gwinnett to a 43-26-3 regular season record and a third-place finish in the ECHL’s Eastern Conference, goaltender Louis Domingue, forward Evan Bloodoff and defenseman Justin Weller, all played key roles in the Gladiators’ four-game sweep of South Carolina in the first round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
Domingue, a fifth-round selection (138th overall) by the Coyotes at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, was part of a two-goalie tandem with fellow Phoenix prospect Mike Lee that recieved a majority of the goaltending duties for the Gladiators during the regular season. But with Lee currently playing for Phoenix’s affiliate in the American Hockey League, Domingue has taken the reins and has responded with strong numbers.
Domingue played in all four of Gwinnett’s first-round games, posting a 1.50 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage with a shutout in Game 1 and a 40-save performance in Game 4. All total, the Quebec native surrendered just six goals in the four games against South Carolina.
“He has responded, and I think it’s great for development when you get to play in important games,” Coyotes Assistant General Manager Brad Treliving said. “Louis has been playing a lot and he’s been playing well.”
Bloodoff, a sixth-round selection (157th overall) by the Coyotes at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, along with Scott Arnold, were two forwards from the Phoenix system who played for Gwinnett this season.
While Arnold has yet to appear in any playoff games for the Gladiators due to a call-up to the AHL, Bloodoff has carried over his play from the regular season, where he was fifth in scoring among his Gwinnett teammates with 20 goals and 18 assists for 38 points in 52 games, to the postseason where he finished the first round with three goals and two assists.
Bloodoff’s first goal was Gwinnett’s first goal of the playoffs at the 9:24 mark of the first period in Game 1 against South Carolina, while his second one was the game-winner that helped secure the series for Gwinnett in the second period of Game 4.
Justin Weller, a fourth-round selection (106th overall) by the Coyotes at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, finished the season with two goals and nine assists for 11 points in 65 regular-season games, with a plus-minus rating of plus-seven.
In the four postseason games against South Carolina, he notched a goal and an even plus-minus rating. Weller’s lone goal of the series put Gwinnett ahead early in the third period of Game 3, a game they won 3-1.
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