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Gladiators sign first players for 10th season

Special photo/The Gwinnett Gladiators Gwinnett Gladiators Kyle Kucharski (10) and Ian McKenzie (73) chase the puck in a game two seasons ago at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

Special photo/The Gwinnett Gladiators Gwinnett Gladiators Kyle Kucharski (10) and Ian McKenzie (73) chase the puck in a game two seasons ago at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

DULUTH -- Forwards Rylan Galiardi and John Scrymgeour are the first players officially under contract with the Gwinnett Gladiators for the franchise's 10th anniversary season.

The signings were announced Wednesday.

Both played in the ECHL last season, Galiardi with the Kelly Cup champion Florida Everblades and Scrymgeour in Reading.

Similar in a lot of ways, both are 6-foot-1, 200-pound Canadians. They each recently celebrated their 26th birthdays and played college in the U.S., Galiardi at Minnesota-Mankato and Scrymgeour at Lake Superior State. They've each gotten a glimpse of the next level with stints in the AHL.

Galiardi has spent more time there, though, getting 10 games in with San Antonio following the end of his senior season in 2010-11 and then three games last year between Bridgeport and Providence. He also played more games (61) and averaged more points (47) in the regular season.

The Calgary native is looking forward to playing for Gwinnett, a place he got a taste of while with division rival Florida last year.

"Every time we played in Gwinnett, I was upset," Galiardi said with a chuckle. "I didn't like playing against Gwinnett. I always thought they were well coached and played well as a team.

"When coach (John Wroblewski) called, it definitely had my interest."

Galiardi looked a number of different options for the 2012-13 season and did a lot of research.

"I was pretty thorough," said Galiardi, who just got married in June. "At a glance, you come to the rink and it's a nice facility. It's got good fans and a great community. The organization has been there for a while, it's stable, and I know they want to win.

"You start piling up the pros and it was difficult to find negatives."

Galiardi also talked to other players -- including Gwinnett defenseman Cody Brookwell -- before he made a decision.

"I played a long time ago in Calgary against Cody Brookwell growing up and I was on an all-star summer team with him," Galiardi said. "I played against him and (Andy Brandt) in college, too. My agent was keen on Gwinnett and I liked a lot of things about it.

"But the most important thing for me came down to opportunity."

Opportunity to play, to win and to move up.

"Wrobo said a lot of good things," Galiardi said. "From the sounds of who is coming back and being signed, it should be a good team. I'm really looking forward to it."

Scrymgeour played for Reading the last two seasons after finishing his college career at Lake State. He had 22 points in 55 games as a rookie in 2010-11, but only played 31 games (with nine points) last year.

As a rookie, Scrymgeour had 22 points in 55 games with the Royals and played three games for AHL Portland. That came on the heels of a productive college career where Scrymgeour played 132 games and picked up 31 points, nearly half of those in his senior season, for the Lakers.