By Buddy Pinkston
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
DULUTH, Ga. – Ah, laid-back, sunny California. Beaches, clubs, swimming pools, movie stars.
Or hockey, hockey and more hockey.
The Gwinnett Gladiators won’t get much opportunity to behold the fabled scenery or engage in the glamorous lifestyle during this week’s five-game West Coast tour.
After landing in Fresno on Monday, they’ll be playing or busing every day for a week. They’re facing some of the ECHL’s top-rated teams, and, with the season winding down, the games are important to Gwinnett’s playoff position. So this is no time for a mental or physical vacation.
Coach Jeff Pyle sees the next five games, all against clubs Gwinnett has never played, as a dress rehearsal for the playoffs. Though three of the four opponents are in the top 11 of the ECHL’s overall standings and battling for playoff position in the West Division, Pyle doesn’t expect the competition to be any tougher than what the Gladiators met in their first 61 games.