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Homegrown Signings Show ATL's Hockey Strength

July 2, 2020 - ECHL (ECHL) - Atlanta Gladiators News Release

DULUTH, GA - The Atlanta Gladiators announced two Atlanta-based additions to their 2020-2021 roster today. The team signed defenseman Zach Yoder and traded for Kansas City Mavericks defenseman Malcolm Hayes in exchange for future considerations.

Hayes is a 25-year-old defenseman who was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. He played the majority of his collegiate hockey at the University of Maine from 2014 to 2018. Malcolm signed with the SPHL's Fayetteville Marksmen and participated 17 games in the early portion of the 2019-2020 season. Hayes then signed with the Mavericks in the ECHL's Mountain Division, where he played in 18 games.

"I could not be more excited about coming back home and joining the Gladiators," Hayes said. "I have heard great things about Coach Pyle and the organization as a whole. I cannot wait to get the season going."

Gladiators head coach Jeff Pyle noted Hayes' desirable strengths, particularly "his versatility to play both forward and defense, along with his size and ability to play physical. He is a good fit for the path we have taken the last two years." Pyle also highlighted Malcolm's personality as a determining factor, saying "he is a great teammate that brings energy and character. We are excited to have him."

Yoder is also a 25-year-old defenseman that hails from the metro Atlanta area. He is the product of the Woodstock High School ice hockey program in Cherokee County, Georgia. Zach played one season at the Air Force Academy before gaining most of his collegiate experience at Ferris State University, team captain Derek Nesbitt's alma mater. He began his professional career appearing in four games for the Toledo Walleye towards the end of the 2019-2020 season.

Zach noted that he came to the Gladiators "because it is a great organization with a great coach." The young defenseman was firm in his goals for the year, saying "I want to be a part of bringing a championship back to the city of Atlanta." He describes himself as a "stay-at-home defenseman that blocks shots and makes a quick first pass."

Coach Pyle said the idea of signing of Yoder was conceived over a year ago. "I had talked to him at the end of last year and was looking to bring him in. We finally got it done this summer." Atlanta's coach described Zach as a "player with skill and mobility. He is a great person that can play in every situation, and brings us the size and presence we want."

Coach Pyle mentioned how the signing of Hayes and Yoder spoke to the strength of Atlanta's hockey community: "The development of the youth hockey programs in Atlanta shows how far we have come in the past twenty years. I tip my cap to each and every arena for what they have contributed and accomplished. I am excited to see these players play in front of their family and friends here in Atlanta."

"Malcolm and Zachary are exciting and energetic additions to our blue line. We love adding guys that want to prove themselves, and both want to show what they can do on the ice," Gladiators team president Jerry James noted. "They are each uniquely connected to the metro Atlanta area and I think these signings are a testament to the development of and passion for the game in our city."

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