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What’s officially designated as the second half of the 2018-19 ECHL season doesn’t come until after the league’s All-Star Classic in Toledo, Ohio on Monday. That’s when the Newfoundland Growlers and other ECHL teams switch from dark jerseys to white ones for home games and vice versa on the road.
But statistically, the Growlers begin the second half of their first-ever ECHL schedule tonight in Worcester, Mass., where they take on the Railers. It’s Game No. 39 for the Growlers (26-11-1) in a 76-game regular-season schedule.
The Growlers enter tonight having won six straight, the longest current winning streak in the league. If Newfoundland can sweep their matchups with the Railers (16-16-5) tonight and tomorrow, they would equal an eight-game winning skein they put together in November, the second-longest by any team in the league this season.
The Growlers began the current road trip with a 2-0 win over the Maine Mariners in Portland, Me., Wednesday, with goalie Michael Garteig stopping 28 shots his first game after being reassigned from the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.
There were a couple of transactions involving Newfoundland Thursday. Toronto Maple Leafs’ 2017 first-round draft pick Timothy Liljegren went back to the Marlies after playing in Portland on a one-game ECHL conditioning assignment. And netminder Eric Levine, who won all three of his starts as part of the Growlers’ current win streak, was claimed on waivers by the Fort Wayne Komets.
The Growlers had actually claimed Levine on waivers from Fort Wayne earlier this month, but he and fellow goalie Brad Barone were both released earlier this week after Garteig and Eamon McAdam were sent down from the AHL.
After Saturday, the Growlers won’t play for a week (they’re in Brampton Jan. 26-27), in part because of the all-star break. The only Newfoundland player not getting the full amount of time off is all-star representative Giorgio Estephan, who by the way has been entered in the fastest skate event in the all-star skills competition.