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Gladiators get first hockey players from AHL

The Gwinnett Gladiators received four players from their National Hockey League affiliate, the Phoenix Coyotes, on Tuesday. Forwards Josh Currie and Philippe Halley, goaltender Chris Rawlings and returning defenseman Justin Weller were assigned from the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League.

“We’re excited about getting all of these guys,” said Gladiators head coach Rick Emmett. “This is a great base to work with for the upcoming season, including getting back a second-year defenseman in Justin Weller. We’re happy to have these young men be a part of the Gladiators organization.”

Weller, 22, skated in 65 games with the Gladiators last season, scoring two goals and adding nine assists to go along with a plus-7 rating. The Daysland, Alberta native also had a goal and an assist in 10 playoff games with Gwinnett, including the game-winning marker in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the South Carolina Stingrays.

“Justin will be one of the only returning defensemen we have coming back,” Emmett said. “We’ll look to him to be a leader on this team; to be able to come in and play minutes in key situations. He is a big guy that gets around the ice well and we are looking for consistent progression from him with his game.”

Halley, 21, was signed by the Gladiators on Sept. 25, but had been attending training camp in Portland. He scored a goal in the Pirates’ 4-0 exhibition win over the University of New Brunswick that same day.

Currie, 20, wrapped up a four-year stint with the Prince Edward Rocket of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season. In 68 games, the Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island native racked up a whopping 104 points (49 goals, 55 assists) and was named a QMJHL First Team All-Star. Over his four years in the QMJHL, he totaled 185 points (97 goals, 88 assists) in 237 games.

Rawlings, 25, launched his professional career last season after finishing his fourth season at Northeastern University. He stopped 19 of 20 shots in two periods of action with the Portland Pirates, and picked up his first pro win in two games as a member of the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads, posting a 0.60 goals against average and a .975 save percentage.

The North Delta, British Columbia native won 47 games in his four years at Northeastern, and had a save percentage of .903 or better in all four years.

The Gladiators’ 2013-14 roster now sits at 15, including forwards Currie, Halley, Stefan Schneider, Alex Hutchings, Evan Bloodoff, Jeremie Malouin, Kurtis Bartliff, Dirk Southern, Joey Haddad and C.J. Lee. Weller, Martin Lefebvre, Devon Krogh and Jonathan Narbonne currently make up the defensive core, and Rawlings is currently the lone goaltender.