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Gladiators' biggest fans come out for season opener

Scenes from opening night of the Gwinnett Gladiators 11th season, including a time-lapse, as they faced the Greenville Road Warriors at the Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth on Oct. 18, 2013.


Gwinnett Gladiators fans Gavin Bacon, 11, left, and friend Logan Sadler, 11, celebrate the third goal during opening night of the Gwinnett Gladiators 11th season as they faced the Greenville Road Warriors at the Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth Friday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

Gwinnett Gladiators fans Gavin Bacon, 11, left, and friend Logan Sadler, 11, celebrate the third goal during opening night of the Gwinnett Gladiators 11th season as they faced the Greenville Road Warriors at the Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth Friday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

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Members from the Gwinnett Gladiators organization raise the South Division Champions 2012-13 banner prior to opening night of the Gwinnett Gladiators 11th season as they faced the Greenville Road Warriors at the Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth Friday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

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A.J. McDougald, 10, and Devon Ferguson, 9, wave to Gwinnett Gladiators mascot Maximus the Lion in between periods of opening night of the Gwinnett Gladiators 11th season as they faced the Greenville Road Warriors at the Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth Friday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

DULUTH — At first glance, the pin attached to Paul Pessolano’s hat reads, “I love hockey more than my wife.”

Upon closer inspection, the word “does” is written in fine print.

The Lilburn resident loves hockey more than not only his wife does, but more than most people.

“It’s the greatest sport in the world right here,” Pessolano said while waiting for the Gwinnett Gladiators to start warming up for their first game of the season, a home opener against the Greenville Road Warriors. “Got great seats for a great price, easy in, easy out. Great team. New team, new coach. Best thing going.”

Pessolano said he expects the Gladiators to be a fast team and to do well in their regular season after watching their preseason game this past weekend at the Duluth Ice Forum, a 4-1 win over the Road Warriors.

“I saw them on Sunday and they really looked great,” he said.

Pessolano has some competition for the Gladiators’ biggest fan, though, — Bob Marker celebrates birthdays, anniversaries and other occasions with Gladiators hockey.

“We love hockey,” the Walnut Grove resident said. “Rough, tough, manly and they haven’t taken it away from them yet.”

“The only true sport left,” Pessolano added.

Still more competition for the Gladiators’ biggest fan comes from 17-year-old Haleigh Elmore of Lawrenceville.

“I’ve been here for 11 years, ever since they started,” she said. “I’ve loved it ever since. We’ve been sitting in the same seats and everything.”

“What’s not to like about hockey?” Richard Elmore, Haleigh’s father, said. “It’s fast-paced, it’s a great game, it’s exciting.”

MOBILE USERS: Click here to watch video feature from opening night.

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Gwinnett Gladiators kick off hockey season

Scenes from opening night of the Gwinnett Gladiators 11th season, including a time-lapse, as they faced the Greenville Road Warriors at the Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth on Oct. 18, 2013.

Scenes from opening night of the Gwinnett Gladiators 11th season, including a time-lapse, as they faced the Greenville Road Warriors at the Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth on Oct. 18, 2013.