It looks like the Newfoundland Growlers will be going coast-to-coast as they play their first-ever ECHL exhibition games.
Earlier this week, it was revealed the expansion Growlers had approached Clarenville Town Council about playing a pre-season game at the EastLink Events Centre this fall, and council unanimously voted to proceed with planning for the contest.
Now there’s word the Growlers also plan to play a couple of exhibition games on the province’s west coast, in Stephenville and Deer Lake.
The preseason opponents are expected to be the Brampton Beast, the only other Canadian entry in the ECHL.
The order of the exhibition contests is not known, nor are exact dates for the matchups, although it is expected they will be during the first week of October, what with the 2018-19 season opening Oct. 12 when the Growlers will host the Florida Everblades at Mile One Centre.
Also to be announced are the Growlers’ plans for training camp. In the past, American Hockey League teams playing out of St. John’s had often set up camp outside the capital city, in Gander or Corner Brook, and Growlers CEO Glenn Stanford said they were considering the same this fall for the new ECHL squad.
However, with players first arriving in St. John’s and the team needing to arrange accommodations for them, as well as making them acquainted with the city, there’s a good chance training camp will begin at Mile One, then continue as the Growlers play their exhibition series against the Beast elsewhere.
In the ECHL, teams need to provide furnished accommodations to players — it is part of the collective bargaining agreement with the minor-league players union.
AHL teams in St. John’s have played exhibition games in Stephenville and Clarenville, as well as Gander, Grand Falls-Windsor, Corner Brook and Mobile (Southern Shore), but this would be a first for Deer Lake.