Gladiators set to open training camp with Brandt as captain

DULUTH -- The Gwinnett Gladiators report to training camp today and are allowed to hit the ice for the first time Friday.

The on-ice sessions at the Duluth IceForum are free and open to the public.

The team opens its 10th anniversary season on the road Oct. 13 in South Carolina. That leaves two weeks to indoctrinate the new players and get them in sync with a core of returning players.

Andy Brandt, who has played more games in a Gladiators' jersey than anyone, will captain the team this year. He takes over for retired defenseman Paul Flache and is just the seventh captain in team history. Brandt was an alternate captain last season when Gwinnett finished with an impressive 41-20-11 record, won a South Division title and earned the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The Gladiators were eliminated in the first round by South Carolina in back-to-back multiple overtime games -- which several returning players acknowledged will fuel the fires this year.

"It was a tough way to end the year," Brandt said earlier this summer.

He's confident, though, in the work head coach John Wroblewski did putting together a roster.

"He does a great job recruiting players that will fit into his scheme," Brandt said. "It's important, especially when you're trying to establish a good locker room. He brings in class guys and looks at their work ethic. Then he looks at their skill."

The roster will almost certainly change as training camp progresses, with players sent down from the AHL. There are fewer jobs available with the NHL lockout so a number of Gladiators that might have started at a higher level will be here this week.

"On the positive side, my path is pretty clear," power forward Joey Haddad said when his signing was announced last week. "If there was an NHL season, I might be at AHL camps or tryouts, which would be a lot more to deal with. Right now, I've got my plan -- go to Gwinnett, have a great camp and get ready for the season."

The Gladiators will work two exhibition games into the training camp, first on the road in Greenville on Oct. 5 and then at the IceForum against South Carolina on Oct. 7.