DULUTH, Ga. – The Atlanta Gladiators announced Tuesday that the team has re-signed defensemen Zach Malatesta and Jack Stander to standard professional contracts.
“I’ve had a great off-season so far and want to ride that momentum going into next season,” said Malatesta. “I can’t wait to get back out there and put my injury behind me. The way last season ended for me was frustrating, but now it’s time to prove what I can do in a full year on the ice.”
Malatesta, 21, skated in 36 games and accumulated 11 points (1g,10a) in his first year pro for the Gladiators last season before a lower-body injury ended his rookie campaign. At the time of his injury, the hard-hitting defenseman led the Gladiators rookie defenders in points and ranked third overall amongst the team’s D-core.
“Last year we made the playoffs for the first time in a while, but now it’s time to take the next step and make some noise in the postseason,” added Malatesta. “We have a new coach and great core of players returning all with the mindset of making a legit run at the Kelly Cup.”
Prior to the start of his professional career, the Boston, MA native played three full seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). In 191 games for the Moncton Wildcats and Acadie-Bathurst Titan, the 5-foot-9, 183-pound defender totaled 92 points (25g, 67a) and a +18 rating.
Stander, 23, joined Atlanta near the end of the regular season last year after completing a four-year stint with the NCAA’s Canisius College. The 6-foot-2, 194-pound defenseman earned two assists in six regular season games for the Gladiators and appeared in two of the team’s four playoff contests. Over the course of four collegiate seasons with the Golden Griffins, the Grosse Pointe Woods, MI native registered 29 points (6g, 23a) in 137 games. Stander was named the team’s alternate captain during his senior campaign.
“Looking back on my short stint last year, I thought Atlanta was a first-class organization with a passionate fan base and was a great place to play,” said Stander. “We have some good building blocks to work off of from last season and I’m going to do my best to contribute to a longer playoff run and have a successful first full season in pro hockey.”
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.For all the latest team news, contests, and more visit AtlantaGladiators.com, or “like” the Gladiators on Facebook (www.facebook.com/AtlantaGladiators), follow the team on Twitter (www.twitter.com/ATLGladiators), Instagram (www.instagram.com/atlgladiators) or Snapchat (www.snapchat.com) at "gladshockey".