ECHL: Atlanta Gladiators Team Update Ahead of the Trade Deadline

Photo Credit: Taylor Trebotte for Inside the Rink

Right before the Thanksgiving Break in November, I highlighted three key players for the Atlanta Gladiators and mentioned a few other members of the team that I felt we should continue to watch out for as the season evolved. Later, in my Mid-Season Report Card, I revisited where those and other players on the team stood and how the team was doing overall. As we approach the trade deadline, here is an update on a few of these players, with some new faces to keep an eye on as we head into next week.

Players Now with the AHL:

Forward Alex Whelan signed with the Cleveland Monsters in December and has since participated in 16 games and achieved eight points (four goals, four assists) with a +3 rating with the AHL team. During his time with the Gladiators, Whelan amassed 23 points (14 goals, 9 assists) in 23 games. However, one could argue that his leadership on the team is what was missed upon his departure.

Defenseman Jack Matier was recently reassigned by the NHL’s Nashville Predators to the Milwaukee Admirals (AHL), where he previously played one game for the Milwaukee Admirals earlier this season. In his debut professional season, Matier played 52 games for Atlanta and scored a total of 17 points (6g, 11a).

Forward, Navrin Mutter was also reassigned to the Milwaukee Admirals. Having played 27 games this season with Atlanta, Mutter has accumulated a total of seven points (5g, 2a) with 54 penalty minutes. Prior to his time with Atlanta, he participated in 68 games with the Milwaukee Admirals, where he recorded ten points.

Forward Carson Gicewicz had been recalled by the Milwaukee Admirals on February 12th. Gicewicz scored 18 points (six goals, 12 assists) in 29 games with Atlanta, including three power-play goals. Since the move, Gicewicz has played in seven games with the Admirals, accumulating a goal and an assist.

Players Now Overseas:

Forward, Cody Sylvester The team has felt the absence of Sylvester, who had elected to go overseas for the remainder of the 2023-24 season. He is now with the German-based team, EC Bad Nauheim, and has played in five games and has earned three goals to date (3 pts).

Players on Injured Reserve:

INJURED: Forward Mitch Fossier #18 has demonstrated exceptional talent on the ice and leadership off of it. He remains one of the top scorers for the Gladiators. Before the injury, Fossier tallied an impressive 10 goals and 23 assists in 27 games with Atlanta, resulting in a total of 33 points. It was no surprise that the ECHL and Atlanta Gladiators that Fossier would represent the club at the 2024 ECHL All-Star Classic. After the game, Fossier was selected as the ECHL All-Star Game MVP. Fossier scored two goals & was credited with five assists in the 18-11 win for the All-Stars. He returned to the Gladiators on January 24th after playing in four games for the San Jose Barracuda having earned one assist.

“I think it’s always fun in the second half, he said.”You’re a team by that point, so you care about the guy next to you, you know everyone well on your team.”

Mitch Fossier, in interview with Inside the Rink’s Armand Klisivitch

INJURED: Goaltender Tyler Harmon #40 – Before his injury, Harmon showcased exceptional performance in the net, most notably in a game against the South Carolina Stingrays, stopping an impressive 40 shots and earning the First Star of the Game. In the 13 games he has played in total, Harmon achieved a .091 save percentage, a record of 4-8. Unfortunately for Atlanta, the injury will keep this talented goalkeeper out of the net for the remainder of the season.

Player Updates

Goaltender Gustavs Grigals #30 – With Harmon sidelined on injured reserve until the season’s end and the inclusion of Brad Barone and Josh Boyko to the lineup, it’s safe to say that Atlanta boasts a wealth of skilled goalkeepers. In terms of statistics, Grigals and Boyko have identical save percentages of 0.895 though these numbers might be slightly deceptive given Boyko’s limited nine games played with the team compared to Grigals’ 24. Barone is the lead in that area percentage-wise, with a current save percentage of 0.899 currently after 17 games. Despite what the scoreboard may show, it has often been the saves made by Grigals and his fellow netminders that have often given the Gladiators the ability to stay competitive. Grigals has been recalled by the Milwaukee Admirals a few times this season. With the trade deadline looming, it will be intriguing to see what unfolds next.

Defenseman, Jacob Graves #7 will continue to play a vital role in helping to tackle the team’s recent challenges, particularly with the current losing streak. Additionally, Graves will position himself during those early scoring chances for the team’s opponents, especially in the first few minutes of the opening period. As team captain, he will need to help keep the team’s discipline in check. Though his physical play is always an asset, his leadership ability will need to even be more prominent. Right now, for me, at least, that is where I would like to see Graves continue to ramp things up.

Current Players to Watch List

Forward, Micah Miller #57 was one of my team MVPs listed as part of the Mid-Season Team Report Card published in mid-January. After 49 games, Miller remains a pivotal member of the team and has now earned 37 points overall, having added 16 points since that report card was published. He has surpassed Mitch Fossier in goals with 21 and has 16 assists to his credit. Miller remains one of the lowest in PIM and has also added only four minutes in penalties since January 15th (PIM: now at 10 min). He continues to be a versatile player and meshes well with linemate Reece Vitelli, as well as with Michael Marchesan and Jackson Pierson. Having been recalled by the Tucson Roadrunners earlier in the season and being a consistent point leader for the team, it will be interesting to see when/if Miller is recalled again.

Forward, Jackson Pierson #19 – if there is a go-to, clutch type of guy for me on this team, it is #19. Whenever it seems that the Gladiators need some infusion of energy, Pierson is there to make that happen for Atlanta. After 55 games, this power forward has racked up 33 points (12g, 20a). He has had his share of multiple goals scored in a game, including the 5-4 win against the Trois-Rivières Lions on January 12th. It was no surprise that Pierson was later given the “A” and now serves the team as one of their Alternate Captains.

Defenseman Robert Calisti #4 – Under the trade agreement between the Gladiators and Kalamazoo Wings, Calisti was loaned to Atlanta from the Charlotte Checkers (AHL). Calisti had participated in 23 games this season with Kalamazoo, achieving 12 points (four goals and eight assists). In his 25 games with Atlanta, he has put up four goals and five assists for nine points. Calisti is not afraid to put himself in positions that benefit his team both offensively and on the defense side of the puck. When I met with him for an interview at the end of January, he alluded to what matters most for this team, which is consistency and discipline. Calisti said, “Just that consistent effort and not making the wrong play at the wrong time, that costs us.”

Forward, Brendan Hoffman #22 – Hoffman was acquired by the team in a trade with the Reading Royals for Blake Evennou at the start of the New Year. After 23 games, Hoffman has scored three goals and provided four assists, accumulating a total of seven points. Beyond his achievements, Hoffman excels in setting up his teammates for better offensive positions and often contributes defensively as well. His strategic plays were instrumental in the team’s victory against the South Carolina Stingrays, contributing to their 5-4 win.

Forward, Spencer Kennedy #26 – If there’s one player on the team who is a must-keep before the trade deadline, for me, it would be Kennedy. Kennedy not only brings additional physicality to the team but also possesses a keen awareness of when and where to apply that style of play. While Kennedy may not be the type of player who always puts himself on the front line for making goals, though he has had his chances to do so, he has had a larger impact on how the team works collectively when he is on the i,ce. Often there seems to be a change in the team’s overall momentum during his shifts. Though listed as a forward, he is certainly not shy when it comes to defending his teammates. And yes, if there ever is a time that you need a player to drop the gloves, Kennedy is your guy.

Some other noteworthy players to mention include Reece Vitelli, Ryan Cranford, and Michael Marchesan, who could also be considered here.

Despite their current record, Atlanta possesses a significant amount of talent in their rookie season, with some players still very early in their professional hockey careers. It could be argued that this season is primarily focused on the team’s growth. The actions taken from now until the end of the regular season could very well pave the way for success in the future for Atlanta. However, if the team chooses not to take advantage of every remaining opportunity for that development to continue, the progress made may ultimately go to waste. Each victory from here on out will play a role in molding the team’s identity and could be instrumental in positioning them as a formidable competitor.

Karen Zehner

Credentialed Beat Writer covering the ECHL Atlanta Gladiators. Diving into the world of slap shots, penalty kills, and the game we love. [@RunwithK] on socials

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