By Christine Troyke
Gwinnett Daily Post
DULUTH, Ga. – Scott Mifsud is fast, smart and works hard.
In other words, he’s exactly the type of player Gwinnett Gladiators head coach Jeff Pyle likes to recruit.
But that’s not exactly how he came to play here.
“He’s a kid that kind of fell into our plate a little bit,” Pyle said. “I knew an agent friend that was connected with his agent.
“His name had come up and I had done some homework on him earlier.”
And since Pyle’s homework always makes the grade, it’s no wonder Mifsud has turned out to be a perfect addition to the Gladiators, who enter this weekend’s home doubleheader against Florida with a 3-1-1 record.
Listed as 5-foot-9, Mifsud is dwarfed by many of his teammates, but he isn’t short on talent and at a solid 180 pounds and he doesn’t get pushed around. Last year as a senior, he led the University of Vermont with 48 points in 39 games.
“He’s got good skill; real smart, intelligent hockey player,” Pyle said. “Great person, too. You know, the kind of mold that we like. “At first I couldn’t fit him in much — and he was still getting points.”
In training camp Pyle put the 23-year-old with another rookie winger, Derek Nesbitt, and second-year center Brad Schell. During the first two weeks of the season, Pyle was still tinkering with the lines and Mifsud even sat out one game.
“I told him it wasn’t because I didn’t like him,” Pyle said. “I was just sorting things out.
“I think I’ve got a better grip on that now. And he’s been good.”
Mifsud has five points in four games, including his first professional goal in last Saturday’s game against Greenville.
The Ontario native ripped a slap shot past Grrrowl goalie Mike Brodeur halfway through the first period and made it a two-point night by assisting on a power-play goal by Scott Kelman in the second. It was his fourth assist of the season and third on the power play.
Mifsud said he’s felling very comfortable with his assignment on a line with Nesbitt and Schell.
“We have three real solid lines,” he said. “I mean, everyone here is a top player from wherever they came from.
“I think the chemistry is real good on all the lines. We’ve got a lot of speed and skill here. We’re going to put up a lot of goals this year.”
He’s clearly done a good job making the adjustment from college to pro.
“There’s a lot more skill up here overall,” Mifsud said. “I think in college you get a lot of guys running around and sometimes there’s not a lot of time and space on the ice.
“But up here everyone can play the game pretty well. It’s actually a fun style of hockey to play.”
So far, the Gladiators’ schedule hasn’t been that different from what Mifsud’s used to in college — just playing on the weekends. Things will pick up considerably as the month goes on, but for now the sole focus can be on the Everblades.
Florida, another speedy team, is playing the Arena at Gwinnett Center on Friday and Saturday nights. It’s the first meeting between the Everblades and Gladiators this season and also Florida’s first road trip.
“It’s a huge weekend for us,” Mifsud said. “I think Florida looks like they’ve got a lot of skill, as do we. It should be some real fast, skilled games and that’s right up our alley — that’s our bread and butter, it seems. We can skate with anyone, I think.
“It’s nice to get them here first and Friday night we’ll see how we match up.”