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Gladiators re-sign big blueliner Brookwell

Photo: Amanda Hertel Gwinnett Gladiators' defenseman Cody Brookwell (25) is hooked by Elmira's Rob Bellamy in a game at the Arena at Gwinnett Center on Jan. 28. Brookwell has re-signed with the Gladiators for this season.

Photo: Amanda Hertel Gwinnett Gladiators' defenseman Cody Brookwell (25) is hooked by Elmira's Rob Bellamy in a game at the Arena at Gwinnett Center on Jan. 28. Brookwell has re-signed with the Gladiators for this season.

DULUTH -- The Gwinnett Gladiators bolstered their defense with the re-signing of Cody Brookwell on Saturday.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound blueliner is returning for his third season with the team and though the deal was announced just a month before training camp gets started, Brookwell said both sides were on the same page from the get-go.

As soon as last season ended, in a wrenching double-overtime loss to South Carolina in the first round, Brookwell said he knew he wanted to come back.

"There was no doubt," Brookwell said.

He had options overseas, but unlike some of his teammates from last season, decided that wasn't the route he wanted to go.

"We had such a good season in Gwinnett, I'd rather come back," Brookwell said. "Especially as a 25-year-old. I'd like to win a championship as a professional. I never really entertained going overseas."

Brookwell had a career-best 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) in 63 games last season with the Gladiators. His plus-13 plus/minus rating led Gwinnett defensemen and was an important factor in the team remaining at, or near, the top of the conference standings for most of the season.

But he knows a great regular season is no guarantee in the playoffs.

"I'm sure that will be the theme of this season," Brookwell said.

The Gladiators were eliminated by the division rival Stingrays on back-to-back multiple overtime games. Game 3 went to quadruple OT and the end came in double OT.

"But it's definitely going to be a different look (for Gwinnett this season)," Brookwell said. "A lot of new guys are coming in."

Brookwell took a couple of weeks to recharge after the season ended, staying in Gwinnett and played golf most days, before heading back to his hometown of Calgary for training. There's no shortage of players to train with in Calgary and excellent facilities as well.

"There's quite a few high-level pro guys I have the opportunity to train with," Brookwell said. "A lot of NHL guys are here just because Calgary is such a popular hockey city. And I'm actually training at Canada Olympic Park where they had the 1988 Games."

He's planning to stay there until the middle of September.

Then he'll head down to Gwinnett where he's going to live with veteran forward Andy Brandt until training camp starts.

This offseason offered quite a bit of uncertainty with another potential NHL lockout looming. Brookwell knew he planned on coming back to Gwinnett even during his exit interview with head coach John Wroblewski last April. But, again, he also knows there are no guarantees.

"With the lockout, it's going to pose a lot of problems for a lot of guys -- at every level," Brookwell said. "It's good to have a spot, but at the same time, it's hockey and you can't rest easy. There could be five or six guys sent down (from the AHL) that want your spot."