DULUTH - It just wouldn't be a Gwinnett Gladiators roster without a few Northern Michigan grads.
Head coach Jeff Pyle continued to mine his alma mater for talent and signed two rookies, defenseman Blake Cosgrove and forward Tim Hartung. The deals were announced Monday.
"They're just good, hard-working kids," Pyle said. "They're coachable. They're team players."
Hartung served as Northern Michigan's captain during the 2008-09 season and had 13 points in 37 games. The Apple Valley, Minn., native appeared in 128 games and finished with 38 points during his five-year collegiate career.
"I started recruiting Hartung last year," Pyle said. "What I needed was like a third-line centerman. But just a leader, a guy that would be a good face-off guy, a good two-way, solid player.
"That was the read I got on him so I was trying to bring him in late last year. But with his schooling, he wasn't sure if that's really what he wanted to do. So I understood."
Pyle renewed his effort to sign Hartung this summer. Hartung had plenty of guys he could call for insider info. Northern Michigan coach Walt Kyle is a former teammate of Pyle's. A host of NMU Wildcats have played in Gwinnett, including recent alums Pat Bateman, Dirk Southern and Matt Siddall.
"I'm sure because of talking to Walt and the guys like Paddy, he wanted to come here," Pyle said. "Cosgrove was the same thing. He skates well, moves the puck well, just does a lot of the little things well.
"He'll be a good solid defenseman. He didn't score any goals his last year of college, but he had 13 assists."
Cosgrove finished his senior season ranked second among Wildcat blueliners with those 13 points in 39 games. Prior to joining Northern Michigan, Cosgrove played 56 games for his hometown team, the Chilliwack Chiefs of the British Columbia Hockey League in 2003-04. He finished with eight goals and 32 assists for 40 points.
"They'll be guys that will develop throughout the year, that when we do have call-ups or injuries, they'll be able to fill those spots," Pyle said. "The depth part is so huge for us. That's kind of what I'm looking for right now."