Milam heads trio of Gladiators voted ECHL All-Stars

Troy Milam was named to the ECHL All-Star team for a second time on Friday.

The Gwinnett Gladiators' defenseman went as a rookie two years ago and was honored by that selection. But Milam was silent for a moment when learning that as a starter, his appearance this year was as a result of a leaguewide vote by American Conference coaches, team captains, media directors, broadcasters and newspaper writers.

"I remember the guys that were starters my first year (as an All-Star) and you knew when you were playing against them," said Milam, who spent most of last year in the American Hockey League. "It's humbling just to be held in that respect."

Milam began his pro career with Gwinnett and was twice called up to the AHL as a rookie out of Ferris State. After playing last year with Manchester and its ECHL team in Reading, Pa., Milam accepted a contract offer from the Gladiators' AHL affiliate in Chicago. He was assigned to Gwinnett and has been a tremendous force throughout the season.

The 25-year-old has 20 points in 26 games for the Gladiators and is tied for fifth among league defensemen in assists (18). Gwinnett head coach Jeff Pyle plays Milam in every situation and gets consistent excellence from the stalwart defenseman.

"It's an honor to be named to the All-Star team and it would never be able to happen without the team I'm on," said Milam in a phone interview from Florida where Gwinnett was playing Friday. "It was a great time (in 2004) and I'm looking forward to this one."

After tallying the votes to determine starters, the league fills out the rest of the roster with prospects nominated by coaches - and two more Gladiators fit that bill.

Forwards Guillaume Desbiens and Pascal Pelletier were also tabbed for this year's All-Star Game in Fresno, Calif. Linemates until Pelletier was called up to Providence of the AHL, the pair have been impressive together and apart this season.

Pelletier, a second-year professional, had 18 goals and 12 assists (30 points) in 21 games for the Gladiators before being signed by Providence. He's put up seven points in as many games with the Bruins.

Desbiens has 26 points in 25 games (sixth among ECHL rookies) since being assigned to Gwinnett by its NHL affiliate, the Atlanta Thrashers. The 20-year-old had a adjustment to make when Pelletier left, but is right back on track with five goals in his last four games (prior to Friday's matchup with Florida).

"Those two guys deserve it," Milam said.

The rest of the American Conference starting lineup includes Reading goalie Cody Rudkowsky, Charlotte defenseman Rory Rawlyk, Kurtis McLean (Wheeling), Scott Bertoli (Trenton) and Ernie Hartlieb (Florida).