The Gwinnett Gladiators will be represented by forward Casey Pierro-Zabotel and goalie Mike Lee in the 2013 ECHL All-Star Game, scheduled for Wednesday January 23rd at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colorado.
Zabotel was named to the starting squad on Wednesday and joins Philipp Grubauer and Denny Urban of Reading, Nathan Deck of Stockton, Justin Dowling of Idaho and C.J. Stretch of Ontario as starters on the ECHL Squad, while Lee’s selection as a reserve was announced by the league on Thursday.
The starting lineup is determined in voting by ECHL coaches, team captains, media directors, broadcasters and media members.
Pierro-Zabotel has 37 points (9G, 28A) in 35 games with the Gladiators this season and leads the club in both points and assists. His 28 assists is fifth best in the ECHL. The southpaw has 13 multi-point games this season, including four 3-point games, and has 3 game winners.
The 24-year old is on pace to have his best season since 2009-10, his rookie season, when he totaled 41 points in 49 games that season as a member of the Wheeling Nailers. The Ashcroft, BC native is racking up points at a rate that would double the 35 he tallied in 71 games with the Bakersfield Condors last season. In his last season in the Western Hockey League with Vancouver in 2008-09, he posted 115 points (36 goals, 79 assists) in 72 games.
Pierro-Zabotel was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in round 3 in the 2007 NHL draft. While he has not scored at this pace up to this point in his ECHL career, he has had two previous 100+ point seasons. In 2006-07 he totaled 116 points as a member of the Merritt Centennials of the BCHL, and again in 2008-09 he almost equaled that with 115 for the Vancouver Giants of the WHL.
Pierro-Zabotel has played in 221 ECHL games and is only three goals shy of 50 for his ECHL career.
Lee enters the weekend second in the league among goaltenders with a 2.06 goals against average in 20 games with the Gladiators. After opening the season 9-3-1-0 Lee lost six straight ECHL starts before stopping 42 shots in Monday’s New Year’s Eve win over the Evansville IceMen to improve his record to 10-9-1-0, including two shutouts.
The Coyotes prospect made a trip to the AHL and played one game with the Portland Pirates, winning his first AHL game in a relief effort that saw him make 28 saves in a 4-3 shootout win over Wilkers-Barre on December 8th. Playing his final WCHA season last year, Lee started 16 games for St. Cloud, finished 8-6-2 with a 2.23 GAA and had a shutout.
Lee posted a season best 26 wins during the 2008-09 campaign as part of the Fargo Force of the USHL. In 48 games the then 19-year old posted a 26-15-4 mark with a 2.40 GAA.
Division leading Gwinnett returns home to play the South Carolina Stingrays on Friday at 7:35p.m, while the second place Greenville Road Warriors will be at home against the Florida Everblades.
The Gladiators are the ECHL affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes of the National Hockey League and play home games at the 11,355-seat Arena at Gwinnett Center, located just off I-85 on Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth. The ECHL is the Premier "AA" League.