Experience, Depth and Toughness Added as Glads Increase Roster by Three
DULUTH, Ga. - The Atlanta Gladiators announced Thursday that they have agreed to terms with forwards Justin MacDonald and Austin McKay as well as defenseman Vytal Cote.
MacDonald, 27, joins the Gladiators from the Fort Wayne Komets of the ECHL where the forward earned nine points (5g, 4a) in 28 games and added a goal and an assist in 13 playoff games. The Newmarket, ON native also skated in five games for the Adirondack Thunder of the ECHL, and produced 24 points (12g, 12a) in 16 games for Jeff Pyle's Evansville Thunderbolts of the SPHL last season. The eight-year pro has a total of 252 points (109g, 143a) in 241 games in the SPHL and FHL. In 117 career ECHL contests, the 6-foot-1, 201-pound forward has accumulated 50 points (24g, 26a) for Evansville, Indy, Cincinnati, Fort Wayne and Adirondack.
"Nobody works harder than Mac, and that's a fact," said Head Coach and General manager of Hockey Operations Jeff Pyle. "He is a tenacious forechecker, great penalty killer, and unbelievable locker room guy. He can play in any role effectively and can adjust to any situation he is put in. Mac is a true team player."
McKay, 27, skated the entire 2017-18 season in Greenville with the Swamp Rabbits amassing a career-high 23 points (10g, 13a) in 61 games played. During his first pro season in 2016-17, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound center appeared in three games for the Gladiators notching one assist. The Toronto, ON native also registered six points (4g, 2a) in 11 games for the ECHL's Rapid City Rush during his rookie campaign. The third-year pro spent the rest of that year split between the Evansville Thunderbolts, under Coach Pyle, and the Pensacola Ice Flyers where he posted a total of 30 points (11g, 19a) in 39 SPHL games. McKay obtained 13 career points (8g, 5A) over four full seasons at Lake Superior State of the NCAA and served as the Lakers' captain during his senior campaign in 2015-16.
"McKay has size and the physicality to make his presence felt on the ice," said Pyle. "He has played for me before, so I know what he can do. I need him to be a shutdown guy that will chip in offensively when needed, and if he accepts his role he will be very effective for us."
Cote (pronounced COE-tay), 22, recorded one assist and 62 penalty minutes in 35 combined ECHL games last season with Adirondack, Greenville, and Fort Wayne. The 6-foot-2, 201-pound defender appeared in 17 games for the SPHL's Mississippi RiverKings and grossed 12 points (4g, 8a) and a plus-8 rating. During his rookie campaign in 2016-17, the Hollywood, FL native listed nine points (1g, 8a) in 40 games with Coach Pyle in Evansville, and two points (1g, 1a) in 10 games with Fayetteville of the SPHL. Prior to turning pro, Cote engineered 34 points (7g, 27a) in 159 Major-Junior games in the QMJHL and 34 points (8g, 26a) and 185 penalty minutes in the MJAHL.
"I have good familiarity with Cote from his time in Evansville with me," said Pyle. "He is a big, tough defenseman that can be a shutdown force if he plays with an edge. When he is embracing his role as a physical presence, everyone hates to play against him."
The 16th season of Atlanta Gladiators hockey begins at the Infinite Energy Arena on Friday, October 19th against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits at 7:35 PM. For ticket information, visit the official team website at www.atlantagladiators.com or call the main office line at 770-497-5100.
The Gladiators are members of the ECHL, the nation's premier "AA" hockey league. All home games are played at the 10,867-seat Infinite Energy Arena, located just off I-85 on Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth - where parking is always free. The Gladiators have established an unrivaled commitment to excellence, maintaining a distinctive reputation for affordable and family-friendly sports entertainment and consistently ranked as one of the top "Things To Do" in the Atlanta area and across the North Georgia region.
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