Gladiators re-sign Cameron, Jackson

File Photo. Gwinnett Gladiators' forward Dustin Cameron (8) celebrates a goal with Michael Forney on March 19 at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

File Photo. Gwinnett Gladiators' forward Dustin Cameron (8) celebrates a goal with Michael Forney on March 19 at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

DULUTH -- Jeff Pyle put countless hours into recruiting since the Gwinnett Gladiators' season ended in early April.

Pyle may be leaving to take over the reigns of the AHL's Texas Stars, but some of that legacy will remain.

The Gladiators announced the re-signing of two young talents that were acquired last season Wednesday.

Forward Dustin Cameron and defenseman Dallas Jackson are both under contract with Gwinnett for the 2011-12 season.

The team is conducting a thorough search for Pyle's replacement, expected to be complete by the beginning of August. While that goes on, the roster continues to develop.

Pyle said he talked to everyone, players he had agreed to terms with and ones he was still recruiting, as soon as news of his hiring in Texas happened last week.

"They were all happy for me," said Pyle, who plans to be in Gwinnett until mid-August when his family will make the permanent move to Austin. "They all think I'm deserving of the chance.

"I do feel bad because I signed a few kids and now I'm not going to be there. I think they wanted to work with me. Both (Cameron and Jackson) are great, great kids to build off of in the locker room."

Cameron came to Gwinnett on Jan. 25 in a deal with Elmira. The rookie put up 19 points in 25 games for the Gladiators after having just seven points in 24 games with the Jackals.

Cameron, 22, spent parts of six years playing in the Western Hockey League before turning pro. He started with his hometown Saskatoon Blades and finished with three strong seasons in Prince Albert, serving as the team captain for two while logging 57 points each of those years.

Cameron had 86 goals and 84 assists in 333 career games in the WHL and scored his first professional goal on Oct. 23 in a 7-2 Jackals' win at Reading.

The 6-foot-1, 202-pound left winger made quite a contribution to Gwinnett's offense after joining the team, not the least of which was a breakout game late in the season as the Gladiators fought desperately to make the playoffs.

Cameron scored two goals and added an assist in a critical 3-2 win over Reading on March 23.

His 13 points and seven goals in March led Gwinnett and ranked fourth among all ECHL rookies.

"Once he started playing all the time, as soon as we got him here, he fit right in," Pyle said. "We had all those call-ups and injuries at the time, so he got to jump right in.

"He's got that mentality, he can be a solid shutdown guy, play on power play and penalty kill. He can come in and really take control of the ship as a second-year guy. They've got a good core coming back."

Jackson was part of a March 2 trade that sent all-star defenseman and team captain Sam Roberts to Reading. Jackson, 22, had nine points in 30 games for the Royals and played nine games for the Gladiators after the deal.

Jackson was also a rookie coming out of the WHL where he amassed 30 goals, 70 assists and 173 penalty minutes in 174 games.

In 2009-10, the Alberta native led all defensemen with the Prince George Cougars in goals with 11, assists with 18 and points with 29.

"I love him," Pyle said. "He's a great skating defenseman and I think this year he's going to step into a bigger role. I hope whoever is the coach will use him on the power play and penalty kill.

"He's an energetic kid. He could step up and be a great leader. You could see him start to blossom with us and he's a quick learner. He could have a breakout season."