Rookie goalie making big impression at Gladiators' camp

DULUTH -- At the top of the crease, big Cody Brookwell had a shot labeled for the top shelf.

Goalie Nick Eno was on his side after making the initial save, leaving the 6-foot-4 defenseman with more than half the net open. It was a good shot, too.

Up came an orange and white glove, out of nowhere, stealing the puck from its flight.

Just a minute later, on the same drill, Eno robbed Will Colbert on a hard slapshot from the circle, the glove flashing out again.

When the 22-year-old came out of the net, finally getting a break during the last drill of the day, he was saluted by the whole team. They all tapped their sticks on the ice as he skated off for a well-deserved rest.

The 6-foot-3 rookie out of Bowling Green is on a tryout and no one looked more impressive at the Gwinnett Gladiators' practice Monday at the IceForum in Duluth.

"He was unbelievable today," head coach John Wroblewski said. "He was our best player out there -- and that's saying a lot because there were a lot of guys who brought an extreme effort. I was very impressed with him today."

The Gladiators have two NHL affiliates, Phoenix and Buffalo, this season. Each is expected to send a goalie to Gwinnett.

But that's always a volatile situation and any injury could leave the Gladiators in the lurch.

Eno, a Michigan native, is making a strong case for himself in the early stages of Gwinnett's training camp.

"He is setting himself up," Wroblewski said. "Right now he is signed with Mississippi in the SPHL and if he ends up there, that team is automatically going to be a contender for the championship.

"He is an extremely competitive kid and he's opened our eyes. If we ever have a goalie situation where we would need a guy, he's on our radar. He's making quite a large blip on it."

Eno was drafted by Buffalo in 2007, but ended up in Gwinnett because another player's agent asked Wroblewski if he needed a goalie for camp.

"I said absolutely," Wroblewski said.

Eno came in with an open mind, knowing the Gladiators would most likely get two goalies assigned from the AHL.

"I'm obviously realistic about that situation, but I'm just going to work hard," Eno said. "That's kind of who I am. I came here with an open mind and I'm looking forward to showing people what I've got."

That's been quite a bit so far.

Notes: Three more players were at Monday's on-ice session -- forwards Chris Clackson and Tyler Murovich from AHL Portland, and rookie defenseman Corey Fienhage from AHL Rochester. ... Another round of arrivals was expected later Monday night. Joey Haddad, Scott Fleming and Shane Sims were all coming from Portland. Signed forward Pat Galivan was with former Gladiators' head coach Jeff Pyle in AHL Texas. Those four players will be in camp today or Wednesday, depending on their travel time. ... Training camp continues daily (except Sunday) at the IceForum through Oct. 12 in preparation for the season opener in Florida on Oct. 14.