DULUTH, Ga. – It was already set to be a banner week for Atlanta Gladiators great Derek Nesbitt.
On Tuesday, it got a bit bigger.
On Sunday afternoon, Nesbitt’s No. 17 will be officially retired during a ceremony in the first intermission of Atlanta’s game against Savannah, joining Cam Brown and Andy Brandt. But Nesbitt won’t be just an honoree on Sunday. He’ll be there in an official role as an assistant coach for the Gladiators, a position that was officially announced by the team on Tuesday.
Being in a position of leadership is hardly anything new for Nesbitt with Georgia’s current longest-running professional hockey franchise. He served as a captain for the Glads’ for five of the past six seasons. In a nine-year career with Atlanta. Nesbitt attained all-time team records with 512 games played, 166 goals, and 424 points.
In 16 seasons of professional hockey, Nesbitt played in 1,040 games and had 805 points in a span that also included 225 points in the AHL ranks.
Nesbitt, who announced his retirement as a player this past summer, will continue to plant the seeds of growing hockey in Atlanta as he’ll maintain his role of Director Of Youth Hockey at the Duluth IceForum, located just a few miles from Gas South Arena.
“We’re happy to have him with us,” said Gladiators head coach Jeff Pyle said. “It will be nice to have the support.”
Pyle is no stranger to Nesbitt, as he recruited Nesbitt to play for the Gladiators in 2005. Now, the two will be coaching alongside each other.
“I’ve always been intrigued with and enjoyed the teaching and coaching side of the game,” Nesbitt said. “That’s evident in the path I chose with my current role as Director of Youth Hockey at the Atlanta IceForum. Being able to assist and learn from Jeff, someone I consider a mentor, with an organization that has given me so much is an exciting opportunity.”
The Gladiators were scheduled to travel to Orlando Thursday, but that game was postponed due to the threat of Tropical Storm Nicole. Atlanta will next play on Sunday when it hosts Savannah.
They’ll be looking to bounce back from Saturday’s 4-2 loss to South Carolina that ended a three-game winning streak.
Atlanta (4-3-0, eight points) is 2-0 against the Solar Bears, having won this season in 5-0 and 6-3 victories. In both of those wins, David Tendeck got the win in goal for Atlanta.
✅Sick Blues Clues jerseys
✅Segment on @SportsCenter pic.twitter.com/iuotno4puw
— Atlanta Gladiators (@atlgladiators) November 5, 2022
The 5-0 win on Nov. 4 came as a 21-6 shots-on-goal advantage broke a scoreless tie in the form of five unanswered goals by Bode Wilde, Kameron Kielly, Dylan Carabia, Cody Sylvester, and Reece Vitelli. The 6-3 win, which was on Oct. 30, saw three third-period goals prove to be the difference with Mike Pelech and Derek Topatigh’s power-play scores and an even-strength marker by Guertler being the final goal.
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