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Culina answers Newfoundland Growlers’ call … again

Newfoundland Growlers photo/Jeff Parsons - Mario Culina, fresh off a four-year OHL career, has put up good numbers in the five starts he’s made for the Newfoundland Growlers so far this season.
Newfoundland Growlers photo/Jeff Parsons - Mario Culina, fresh off a four-year OHL career, has put up good numbers in the five starts he’s made for the Newfoundland Growlers so far this season. - Contributed

Rookie goalie stops 37 shots to register fifth ECHL win

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The Newfoundland Growlers did all of their scoring in a 10-minute stretch in the second period, while goaltender Mario Culina made 37 saves as the Growlers edged the Brampton Beast 4-3 in southern Ontario on Sunday afternoon to close out their pre-Christmas ECHL schedule.

Culina hasn’t played much — Sunday marked just his fifth game since joining the Growlers two months ago. But he’s been solid when called upon, winning all five of his starts and posting a 2.20 goals-against average and .934 save percentage in doing so.

And this marked the first time any netminder other than Michael Garteig had consecutive starting assignments for Newfoundland (19-8-2). After Garteig made eight straight starts, Culina finished off the Growlers’ most recent homestand, backstopping his side to a 5-2 win over the Maine Mariners on Wednesday night at Mile One Centre.

A day later, Garteig was recalled by the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies, joining them for a two-game weekend trip to Winnipeg, where he earned the win and second-star honours as the Marlies downed the Manitoba Moose 5-1 Saturday.

As the Marlies returned to Toronto Sunday, Garteig was reassigned to the Growlers and rejoined the ECHL club in nearby Brampton, but only to act as Culina’s backup for the second time in five days.

He watched as Brampton got first-period goals from Jackson Leaf and Dave Pacan, then Newfoundland rattled off four straight markers in the middle frame, with Matt Bradley, Ryan Moore, Scott Pooley and Josh Kestner doing the scoring. The Beast’s Anthony Beauregard tallied in the third, but Brampton couldn’t come up with an equalizer, even with goalie Jake Paterson pulled for an extra attacker.

The Growlers don’t play again until Dec. 28 — resuming a road trip that technically started in Brampton — by taking on the Reading, Pa., Royals. But that doesn’t mean some members of the team won’t get recalled to the Marlies, who have four games between now and the 28th.

Garteig, called up after the oft-injured Kasimir Kaskisuo was unavailable (for personal reasons) over the weekend, might be the most likely choice in that regard.

Dog Bites

Michael Garteig’s victory in Winnipeg was his first in the American league. He appeared in eight games for the AHL’s Utica Comets two years ago, but had a 0-4-1 record … Scott Pooley, who had two assists, was Sunday’s first star. The second star was Brampton’s Matt Petgrave, while the third-star nod went to Growlers’ defenceman Evan Neugold (2A) … The Beast outshot the Growlers 40-25 … The likelihood of the Growlers getting veteran defenceman Kyle Cumiskey back was reduced even further as the former NHLer signed an AHL contract with the Providence Bruins. Cumiskey had been on a tryout with the P-Bruins … St. John’s native Shayne Morrissey has been loaned to the ECHL’s Norfolk Admirals by Evansville of the Southern Professional league. A former Divison III collegiate star at Neumann University, the 26-year-old forward, who played major midget with the Tri-Pen Frost, registered an assist in his first two games with Norfolk …

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