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Stutter start costs Newfoundland Growlers Royally

Newfoundland Growlers’ defenceman Rodi Short (3) dives for a puck as Brayden Low (9) and Fran DiChiara of the Reading Royals and Maxim Mizyurin of the Growlers look on during ECHL action at Mile One Centre Saturday night. — Newfoundland Growlers photo/Jeff Parsons
Newfoundland Growlers’ defenceman Rodi Short (3) dives for a puck as Brayden Low (9) and Fran DiChiara of the Reading Royals and Maxim Mizyurin of the Growlers look on during ECHL action at Mile One Centre Saturday night. Short, a Goulds native who normally plays for the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts senior team, has played three games for the Growlers, including two on the weekend. He's plus-three in those three games. — Newfoundland Growlers photo/Jeff Parsons

They drop two in a row to visiting Reading

There’s a popular quote that’s been around for a while, attributed to Wayne Gretzky. It’s one of those motivational phrases that goes, “You miss 100 per cent of the shots you don't take.”

We don’t know if Gretzky really said that, but it sure sounds good.

Too bad the Newfoundland Growlers didn’t have it pinned to their bulletin board Saturday night.

The Growlers managed only two shots over the entire 20 minutes of the first period, fell behind early and couldn’t catch up as the Reading Royals came into St. John’s and swept the Growlers, capping things off with a 5-3 win Saturday.

Friday night, Reading won 7-5, a last-goal-wins game that kept fans on their toes, but one that probably gave Growlers assistant coach John Snowden heartburn.

“You have to be ready to start on time,” Snowden said of Saturday night’s contest. “Two shots aren’t good enough, especially with the team that we have. We’re an offensive team with a lot of creativity.

“But you have to be dug in and ready for the puck to drop. Tonight, we weren’t.”

Saturday, before an announced Mile One Centre crowd of 3,233, the Royals led 2-0 after 20 minutes on goals by Adam Schmidt and Frank DiChiara. The teams traded second-period goals, by the Growlers’ Josh Kestner and another by Schmidt before Newfoundland rallied in the third with powerplay goals from Scott Pooley and Griffin Molino 34 seconds apart.

Molino, who finished with a goal and an assist in his Growlers’ debut, was reassigned to St. John’s from the AHL’s Toronto Marlies last week along with Emerson Clark.

It stood 4-4 until the 9:04 mark when Michael Huntebrinker scored what would be the game-winner, his fourth against Newfoundland after potting a hat trick Friday night.

Alex Krushelnyski would add an empty net goal.

“We had spurts tonight of the team we want to look like in terms of our identity,” said Snowden Saturday. “Last night I don’t think we were very good. We scored five goals, but gave up seven. That’s unacceptable.

“We have to pay attention to details, be tighter in the three zones — defensive zone, neutral zone, offensive zone. We have to get back to what we do, and that’s skating and getting down to work. We have to be a working team.”

The loss dropped the Growlers, who have inhabited top spot in the overall standings for the better part of a month, to 16-8-1. After winning eight games in a row, the Growlers are 3-4 in their last seven.

On Friday night, Scott Dombrock, Josh MacDonald, Schmidt and Krushelnyski backed up Huntebrinker’s three-goal effort.

J.J.  Piccinich had a pair of goals in a losing cause. Kestner, Ryan Moore and Sam Babintsev netted singles.

On a night in which he was presented with a print for his ECHL goalie of the month honour, Growlers’ puckstop Michael Gartieg allowed seven goals on 26 shots Friday. The next night, Garteig made 19 saves.

Garteig has started the last seven games, and 20 of 25 overall, going the distance in each.

Snowden, who has taken over the Growlers’ head coaching duties with Ryane Clowe sidelined for “medical reasons”, had some help on the bench over the weekend with Darryl Williams looking after the defence.

Williams, of Mount Pearl, is a former assistant coach with the New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks.

“He’s got years and years of experience,” Snowden said, “and a real bright guy. And it’s nice because I have a sounding board, someone to talk to.”

When asked if he will remain behind the Growlers bench Tuesday and Wednesday when their expansion brothers, the Maine Mariners, come to town, Snowden was non-committal.

“We’re discussing things,” he said.


The Growlers had help from the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts senior team over the weekend. Defenceman Rodi Short played both games after making a start for the Growlers back in October, and A.J. Whiffen backed up Gartieg with Mario Culina on the sidelines … Zach O’Brien also missed the weekend series due to injury. O’Brien had points in three straight games prior to missing the Reading series … Brady Ferguson, who had scored goals in three straight games before the weekend series, also missed the two games with the Royals after suffering a knee-on-knee injury last weekend when he was hit by Macoy Erkamps of the Brampton Beast … Alex Krushelnyski is the son of former NHLer Mike Krushelnyski. He is also the player who scored the goal to end one of the longest games in history. Last spring, in the AHL playoffs, Krushelnyski gave the Lehigh Valley Phantoms a 2-1 win over the Charlotte Checkers with a goal at 6 minutes 48 seconds into the fifth overtime period. It was the longest game in AHL history at 146 minutes, 48 seconds and lasted more than six hours …

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