Gladiators to open on home ice

For the first time in the team's three-year history the Gwinnett Gladiators will open the regular season on home ice. The team opens the 2005-06 schedule on Oct. 21 vs. the Charlotte Checkers, the ECHL announced on Monday.

The Gladiators, who play their homes games at The Arena at Gwinnett Center, will host two opponents for the first time when the Toledo Storm make their first trip to Gwinnett on Dec. 17th and the 2005 Kelly Cup Champion Trenton Titans visit on Dec. 9th.

Gwinnett faces in-state rival Augusta 10 times during the season. Playoff opponents for the last two seasons, the Gladiators will face the Mississippi Sea Wolves nine times during the regular season and the Greenville Grrrowl appear seven times on the schedule.

Twenty-six of the Gladiators 36 home games are weekend dates with nine Friday games, 11 Saturday night games and six Sunday games. In addition, the Gladiators host the in-state rival Augusta Lynx on Thanksgiving Day and two "holiday" games on Dec. 27th against South Carolina and Dec. 29th against Greenville.

"We have a travel friendly schedule," said Gladiators head coach Jeff Pyle. "And with seven of our first nine games at home, that will give us a great opportunity to get off to a good, positive start to begin the season."

The ECHL will have 27 teams in 16 states and British Columbia playing 972 games in 2005-06. The season will open October 21 and end April 8 with each team playing 36 home games and 36 road games. The division and conference alignments and the format for the 2006 Kelly Cup Playoffs will be announced following the Annual Board of Governors Meeting on June 21-22.