Gladiators open season with three alternate captains

DULUTH - The Gwinnett Gladiators won't have a captain, at least when the season starts tonight at home against the Mississippi Sea Wolves.

Head coach Jeff Pyle is going with three alternate captains for the time being - returning forward Andy Brandt, returning defenseman Jeff Mason and new veteran defenseman Chris Cava.

"Right now I'm not worried about having a captain," Pyle said. "Pretty much (I want) just team leadership. We have a couple guys here that I could give it to, but you never know how long guys are going to be here either."

Last year, Gwinnett's captain was forward Mike Vigilante. Before that, Cam Brown was the only man to wear the 'C' for the Gladiators.

Brandt was also an alternate captain last season, his first as a pro. Brandt joined Gwinnett right out of college at the end of the 2006-07 season and played a handful of games. He signed with the Gladiators as a rookie and was a steady influence on and off the ice. The 25-year-old Wisconsin native and former Badger had 18 goals and 44 points and never missed a game last year for Gwinnett.

Brandt was the first player Pyle re-signed this summer.

Mason played 70 games and had 20 points in 2007-08, his third professional season after playing four years at Providence College. He was consistently solid for Gwinnett on the blue line, playing a smart game and using his speed to effectively help out in the offensive zone.

Cava has seven pro seasons under his belt, most recently as one of the captains of tonight's opponent, the Mississippi Sea Wolves. The 28-year-old has 118 points and 1,341 penalty minutes in 398 career ECHL games.

The Gladiators open the season at 7:05 p.m. today at the Arena at Gwinnett Center. Their next game is also at home, on Tuesday against another division rival, Augusta.

Tickets are available through Ticketmaster outlets and at the arena box office in Duluth.