The Newfoundland Growlers held off a furious late surge by the Maine Mariners, hanging on for a 5-4 win in a battle of ECHL expansion teams Wednesday night at Mile One Centre.
It was the third straight win for the Growlers, seventh in 10 games and second in as many days over the Mariners.
Newfoundland had doubled Maine 8-4 Tuesday night.
A pair of St. John’s natives led the Growlers (23-11-1) offensively. Zach O’Brien, who potted a hat trick against the Jacksonville Icemen Saturday night, enjoyed a two-goal game, including the game-winner on a one-timer at 10:51 of the third period.
O’Brien also chipped in with an assist on Marcus Power’s goal. Power returned the favour with helpers on O’Brien’s pair.
The two were linemates on the major midget St. John’s Fog Devils.
Derian Plouffe also scored for Newfoundland. Of his five goals this season, three have come against the Mariners.
Matt Bradley, with his first in six games, was the other Growlers’ goal scorer, tallying in the second period on the first-ever penalty shot in Newfoundland franchise history.
It was part of a Gordie Howe hat trick for Bradley, who also had a first-period fight and third-period assist on O’Brien’s second goal of the game and his 13th of the season.
It was third Gordie Howe hat trick for Bradley, who twice accomplished the feat during his days in the Western Hockey League with the Medicine Hat Tigers and Regina Pats.
“Our line’s been playing great lately,” said Bradley, who centers Power on the left wing and O’Brien on the right side. “To score one there felt good.”
Jason Salvaggio netted a pair for Maine (19-14-1). Singles for the visitors came from Greg Chase and Morgan Adams-Moisan.
While it was Power and O’Brien carrying the freight for the Growlers offensively, Brad Barone registered his first win in net for Newfoundland, stopping 21 shots, 10 in the third period as the Mariners launched a full-court press.
Barone, the Medfield, Mass., native who spent three seasons at Boston College, was 1-4 in net for the ECHL’s Norfolk Admirals this season.
Trailing 5-2 with 10 minutes left in regulation time, the Mariners made things interesting with goals by Adams-Moisan, on a power-play tally, and Salvaggio, but Barone was there to shut the door in the final five minutes of play.
“I liked his battle tonight, especially at the end when he made big saves for us,” Growlers coach Ryane Clowe said of Barone, who has played primarily in the Southern Pro league with Louisiana, Mississippi and Roanoke, Va., since turning pro four years ago. “He gave us a chance to win, and that’s what you want from your goalie.
“We’ve had goalies with the (NHL) Leafs injured, goalies with the (AHL) Marlies injured. It’s been a battle throughout the organization, but he came through tonight. It’s important.
“(Eric) Levine’s given us two wins and now Barone’s given us a win. That’s all you can ask for.”
The Growlers claimed Levine off waivers from the Fort Wayne Komets, and he beat the Icemen Saturday night and the Mariners Tuesday.
The Adirondack Thunder are at Mile One this Friday and Saturday as the Growlers close out a six-game homestand. Game times both nights are 7 p.m.
The Thunder and Growlers entered Wednesday tied for the points lead in the ECHL’s North Division.