Gladiators add big defenseman Zarb

DULUTH - The loss of other teams continues to be the gain of the Gwinnett Gladiators.

Big, young defenseman Chris Zarb became a free agent when the Mississippi Sea Wolves folded this summer and chose to sign with Gwinnett.

The Gladiators announced the addition of the second-year pro and Philadelphia Flyers' 2004 draft pick Friday.

"He's a big defenseman and he can bring some offense," Gwinnett head coach Jeff Pyle said. "I think he's one of those guys who will fit in with the way I coach.

"I saw some pretty good up-side. He skates well. He's got a good shot, but I want him to shoot a little bit more. He just seemed like a real good kid."

Zarb played 37 games for the Sea Wolves as a rookie last season and had 16 points. His five goals led all Mississippi blueliners and three of his assists came in a single game against the Gladiators last Halloween.

The 24-year-old from Michigan also was called up to AHL Philadelphia, but appeared in just four games for the Phantoms.

"He said he liked the way we played, that I let the 'D' run once in a while," Pyle said. "I told him, 'I want to prepare you for the next level.'

"Last year he had a chance to be in the 'A' but bouncing back and forth can be tough. In the end though, it's a good learning tool for kids."

Prior to turning pro, Zarb skated in three seasons with Ferris State University. In 79 career collegiate games, the 6-foot-4, 197-pound defenseman had two goals and 27 assists. He also accrued 130 penalty minutes while with the Bulldogs.

Earlier this summer, the Gladiators also were able to sign point-producing, two-way forward Matt Auffrey when his previous team, Dayton, informed the ECHL it wouldn't be back for the 2009-10 campaign.

Zarb's signing brings Gwinnett's roster to six. Zarb is the third defenseman, joining Aaron Brocklehurst and Mike Looby.

"I like having him with his size, too," Pyle said. "And we needed a little bit of help moving the puck out. We've got Brocklehurst and now him. Hopefully that will get us out of our zone faster."

Goaltender Josh Johnson was the first player locked up, with Auffrey and Tom Zanoski as the forwards inked so far.