They hit the road over the holidays

Plenty of Newfoundland hockey players involved in transactions during the Christmas and New Year’s breaks

Published on January 11, 2017

Clark Bishop of St. John’s, shown here taking a faceoff against the Texas Stars’ Mike McMurtry in this file photo, has been reassigned from the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers to the ECHL’s Florida Everblades.

©Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars

There were plenty of hockey players from Newfoundland on the move over the Christmas and New Year’s breaks, and we’re not talking about holiday travel.

Zach O’Brien, Clark Bishop and Cody Donaghey — all from St. John’s — were among those who found themselves transferring, being assigned or traded to new teams.

O’Brien went the furthest, in terms of distance.

The centre had been with the Ravensburg Towerstars in Germany’s second division, but was released by the team last month. Last week, he hooked on with the ECHL’s Wichita Thunder, where he became the teammate of another Newfoundlander, defenceman James Melindy of the Goulds.

O’Brien had an immediate impact in his first game with Wichita, producing two assists along with a plus-two rating and being named the second star in Wichita’s 4-2 win over the Missouri Mavericks on Saturday

Bishop also found himself heading in the ECHL, after being assigned to the Florida Everblades by the American Hockey League’s Charlotte Checkers.

Bishop, in the first year of his entry-level deal with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, had two goals and two assists in 28 games with Charlotte, but was a healthy scratch for the Checkers recently

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League had an extremely busy trading period last week and one of the most active teams was the Charlottetown Islanders, who acquired nine players and traded 10 away.

Among those caught up in the whirlwind was Donaghey, the overage rearguard who was dealt from the Islanders to the Val d’Or Foreurs. However, Donaghey, who had been Charlottetown’s leading scorer among defenceman, balked at the move and Val d’Or eventually flipped him in another trade, this time with the Sherbrooke Phoenix.

Donaghey has yet to suit up for Sherbrooke, but when he does, it will become the sixth QMJHL club for which he’s played over five QMJHL seasons. Donaghey began with Rouyn-Noranda, was traded to Quebec, then to Halifax and Moncton before being dealt to Charlottetown before this season. He was never drafted into the NHL, but has an entry-level contract with the Ottawa Senators.

Donaghey actually signed his NHL deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but was — you guessed it — traded to the Sens in the Dion Phaneuf deal.

Another Newfoundlander who was part of an Islanders transaction was centre Kyle McGrath, whose rights were sent to the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.

McGrath, who has been with the St. John’s Maple Leafs of the Newfoundland and Labrador Major Midget Hockey League and is that circuit’s leading scorer (24 G, 25 A in 24 games), immediately joined the Screaming Eagles and played his first three QMJHL games.

McGrath actually saw his playing rights dealt twice over the holidays.

The Maritime Hockey League also had its trading period and McGrath’s rights in the junior A league were trade from the Campbellton Tigers to the Valley Wildcats.

Other Newfoundlanders involved in Maritime league trades were defenceman Josh Fitzgerald of Gander (from South Shore to Amherst), forward James Locke of Torbay (from Truro to Valley), goaltender Riley Akerman of Bay Roberts (from Summerside to Campbellton) and goalie Kyle Alaverdy of Grand Falls-Windsor, who moves to the Nepean Raiders of the Central Canadian junior league from Amherst.

This is the third different league of 2016-17 for Alaverdy, who began the season with Espanola of the Northern Ontario junior circuit.

Also on the move over the holidays, but in a different way, was Sarah Davis of Paradise, who joined the Canadian national women’s development team, which won a silver medal at the Nations Cup (formerly Meco Cup) in Fussen, Germany.

Davis, who plays regularly with the Calgary Inferno of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, had a goal and an assist as Canada defeated Sweden, Switzerland and Germany in preliminary-round play before losing 1-0 to Finland in the gold-medal final.