After our last recap the Growlers were about to head on a five game road trip; and its been an eventful couple of weeks. Their winning streak has come to an end – stopped at eight – but they’re 3-1-1 across the five games, extending their season record to 14-6-1-0.
It’s a little over a month since the start-up Newfoundland Growlers began their inaugural campaign with a 3-2 win over last seasons Kelly Cup finalists Florida EverBlades; and things are looking pretty good for them right now. They sit atop the entire Eastern Conference with an 11-5 record, going 8-2 in their last 10; and are riding a 6 game winning streak – an early franchise record.
This being their first ever season, Growlers records have been falling like Black Friday prices; and a number of “first-evers” have been recorded:
Kristians Rubins scored the Growlers first ever competitive goal (Scott Pooley with the assist); the team recorded its first ever road win on October 20th 4-1 against the Manchester Monarchs (after splitting home series against both the EverBlades and the Thunder); and goaltender Michael Garteig registered their first ever shut-out in a 3-0 home to Manchester last time out on November 10th. Garteig has just won the ECHL’s Goaltender of the week award for his efforts.
It seems that head coach Ryan Clowne has done a grand job quickly gelling a team with the games coming thick and fast; but whether or not this momentum is sustainable remains to be seen – the Growlers could well have taken teams by surprise at how well and how confidently they’ve come together – if the momentum falters, what will happen then?
The early signs are promising: The Growlers have responded well to defeats, having yet to lose more than one game in a row, and are yet to be shut-out. In the Everblades they’ve gone toe-to-toe with a team who almost tasted success last year and they’ve traded wins with the closest team to them in the Eastern Conference, the Adirondack Thunder.
A few statistical leaders:
Brady Ferguson (LW) 9G-11A-20 Pts
Giorgio Estephan (C) 9G-9A-18 Pts
Scott Pooley (RW) 4G-8A-12 Pts
Ferguson also leads the team on +/- with 10.
PIM: James Melindy (D) – 40
Mario Culia – 2 games – GAA: 2.00 – SV%: 0.920
Michael Garteig 12 games – GAA: 2.26 – SV%: 0.930
Upcoming the Growlers are about to embark on a five game road trip, firstly with a double header against the Reading Royals on the 17th and 18th of October, having already won 3-1 in Reading earlier in the campaign. They then head down to Florida to face the Jacksonsville Icemen on the 22nd, before a two-game series against the Orlando Solar Bears (great name) on the 24th and 25th.
The Guildford Flames have announced the signing of 26 year old Canadian, T.J Foster.
Able to play either right wing or center, T.J Foster is a high quality player who formed a formidable partnership with John Dunbar at the Norfolk Admirals, which saw both men top the points charts for the team and get rewarded with European moves the following season – Foster to Fisk Asker in Norway, where he again excelled, and Dunbar, of course, to the Flames.
T.J Foster Highlights:
Despite never playing in the UK, the 11/12 WHL Champion knows the Flames team well. He was signed by Flames legend and University of Alberta GM, Stan Marple, back in 2013 and his 2 years with the Golden Bears saw him play alongside Brett Ferguson, Jamie Crooks, Kruise Reddick and Jesse Craige, plus former Flames players Rhett Rachinski, Brennan Yadlowski – All pictured below celebrating their University Cup win in 2015.
Oh, and the Head Coach of this championship winning team? Former Flames D-Man, Ian Herbers.
The 2014-15 Golden Bears won the program’s 15th University Cup March 15 in Halifax by beating the University of New Brunswick 6-3.
Along with the University Cup success, individually, Foster was named the CIS (West) MVP, made the 1st All Star Team and won the Dave ‘Sweeney’ Schriner Scoring Trophy for scoring the most points.
The following season saw Foster sign a 2 year deal with the AHL Toronto Marlies, where he saw ice time with both the Marlies and their ECHL affiliates, the Orlando Solar Bears. Once again, Foster was impressive as he picked up 54 points in 63 ECHL games.
After just 12 games in 16/17 with the Solar Bears, he made the move to the Norfolk Admirals. Along with John Dunbar, he also played alongside Jordan Abt & Ben Davies, where he finished as the team’s top points scorer.
Head Coach Paul Dixon said: “We were not actively looking for players in any particular way, but a situation came up where we realised TJ might be interested in joining us.
“He is an excellent skating, highly skilled forward, and we know that a lot of our guys are already very familiar with him as a dressing room personality.
“It made sense for us to try and figure out a way to get him here, and we are very excited that we have been able to add him to our roster.
“He is an exciting player to watch, and we know that this addition does a great deal to help improve the skill depth of our roster.”
T.J Foster commented: “I’m excited to be joining the teaml. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the organization from my former teammates, and I hope I can make a positive impact on the ice.”
Featured Image: T.J Foster scoring 1 of his 2 goals for the Orlando Solar Bears during the 4-3 overtime loss to the Kalamazoo Wings at the Amway Center on Feb. 29, 2016. Photo by Ferdinand Medina.
October 12th: The ECHL’s newest start-up franchise, the Newfoundland Growlers, won their first ever game, beating last years Kelly Cup finalists Florida Everblades 3-2 in front of a sold-out home crowd at Mile One Center in Saint Johns, Newfoundland.
Continue reading Growlers win first ever game
The Newfoundland Growlers have signed British Colombia native Michael Garteig to a one-year ECHL contract. With that, Garteig becomes the first goaltender on the Growlers roster.
My interest piqued by a very British (some may say ‘Juvenile’) reaction to the team name, I quickly became enamoured with the ECHL’s newest team, the Newfoundland Growlers.
The league officially approved a new team out of St. Johns, the former home of the IceCaps on March 13th 2018 and the Growlers name was officially announced on May 22nd.
The start-up quickly established a strong social media presence as a bold logo and some nice looking kits were unveiled; but the team also celebrated its heritage and that of its emblem by encouraging fans to involve their four-legged friends in comments and replies, and they seem genuinely committed to providing a large range of merchandise for dogs as well as us mere humans. All this, coupled with the inevitable excitement which surrounds a franchise created a buzz around the team; but there were other, ultimately more important reasons to follow the Growlers over the summer:
In heist movies the best part is often watching the team come together; I love roster building in sports and watching a whole new team be assembled holds a (relatively) unique appeal. Fans also feel like they are getting in on the ground floor as the franchise develops and makes its own history; so news of latest signings and roster moves have been eagerly anticipated.
Former New Jersey Devils assistant coach and Newfoundland native Ryan Clowne was named as the head coach on June 20th. However, at the moment, with their first game a little over a month away on October 12th the Growlers only have five players under contract:Hometown boy Marcus Power became the teams first ever signing on July 12th, the left-handed centre joining straight from the University of Prince Edward Island.
He was soon joined by blueliner James Melindy, another Newfoundlander who comes with plenty of ECHL experience having played 53 games for the Utah Grizzlies last term, as well as the likes of Wichita Thunder and Wheeling Nailers amongst others in the past. He also has AHL experience with Portland Pirates and San Diego Gulls.
In recent weeks these have been joined by the Latvian D-Man Kristians Rubins, formerly of the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers; and the Russian right-winger Semyon Babintsev; although it has been a few years since he has played any significant amount of games.
And this week they were joined by veteran defenceman Adam Pardy.
Another Newfoundland native – the third on the roster – Pardy was drafted 173rd overall in the 2004 NHL draft by the Calgary Flames and has appeared in over 350 NHL games; the 34 year old adding what could be valuable experience to the Growlers roster.
Thanks to affiliations with two Toronto based teams, the NHL’s Maple Leaps and the AHL’s Marlies; the roster will inevitably be filled with players farmed out from those organisations, along with hopefully one or two more signings; but with a little over a month until the Growlers face-off at home to the Florida EverBlades – and a the game exhibition series before that – there is still a lot of recruitment work to be done to fill the roster and gel a team together.
I’ll be watching out for new arrivals as the season draws near and keeping a watchful eye on how the Growlers get on during their inaugural season.
Photo Credits: The Newfoundland Growlers
It’s been a few weeks since my last update on the Colorado Avalanche so here is the latest news.