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Rookie goalie signed by Gwinnett

DULUTH - With a goaltending situation still in flux, the Gwinnett Gladiators announced the signing of rookie netminder Charlie Effinger on Friday.

Effinger posted exemplary numbers as a collegian at Miami (Ohio) University and Gladiators head coach Jeff Pyle was impressed with him overall.

"From everything I've heard about him, he's a really hard-working kid," Pyle said. "He's kind of a wiry guy, typical goalie type, but just his attitude and, the homework I did, I wanted a young kid that I knew would be pumped to come here and be in a good situation.

"A solid guy that I know when he plays or when somebody gets called up, he'll be a good No. 1."

Gwinnett, the ECHL affiliate of the Atlanta Thrashers and Chicago of the American Hockey League, is likely to get at least one goalie assigned from above.

Last season, the Gladiators had Dan Turple assigned by Atlanta and signed Craig Kowalski. Turple is entering his final season of a three-year contract with the Thrashers and could end up playing for Chicago. Earlier this summer, Pyle mentioned Kowalski was interested in playing overseas. Now it seems that might not be the case and there's a possibility Kowalski could return to Gwinnett.

But with so many variables in play, Pyle wanted to lock down at least one quality goaltender.

Effinger, 22, just completed his career at Miami where he posted a 32-12-4 record with a 2.35 goals-against average and .912 save percentage.

A native of Belleville, Ill., Effinger had a career year as a sophomore. He appeared in 19 games and ranked first in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association in both goals-against average (1.83) and save percentage (.931). He ranked second nationally in both categories.

During that 2005-06 season, Effinger was named the CCHA's best goaltender and was named to the All-CCHA second team. He was also honored as Miami's Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Effinger became the first RedHawks netminder to earn All-CCHA honors since Trevor Prior - who played in goal for Gwinnett during the 2003-04 season - did in 1996-97.

Effinger was 10-6-1 as a junior and then a perfect 6-0-0 with a 2.16 GAA as a senior.

Pyle said he thought Effinger might have gotten pushed out somewhat by a younger, NHL-drafted goalie last year at Miami. But the numbers in those games are unquestioningly excellent.

"I just like everything about the kid," Pyle said. "He went to a rookie camp this summer - I think it was St. Louis' prospect camp - and I heard good things about him. And his numbers for four years were good."