Going by the Newfoundland Growlers’ two pre-season games, it appears as if the team’s impressive returning corps of forwards is more than ready for a new season.
The defending ECHL champion Growlers defeated the Brampton Beast 5-2 Friday and followed up with a 5-4 victory on Saturday in Brampton, Ont.
Of the 10 Newfoundland goals in the games, seven were scored by familiar faces.
Scott Pooley had one on Friday and two on Saturday; Todd Skirving, Marcus Power and Brady Ferguson each had single tallies in Friday win; and Matt Bradley registered a marker in Saturday’s rematch.
The other two returning forwards — Zach O’Brien and Giorgio Estephan — also made contributions, each chipping in a pair of assists.
Of the seven, only Skirving and Pooley played both contests.
Not that rookies didn’t do their part. Riley Woods had the other goal on Friday, while fellow first-year pro forwards Colt Conrad and Justin Brazeau scored on Saturday.
What’s more, a pair of freshman forwards had plus-four ratings, Tommy Panico in the first game and Joseph Duszak in the second. And rookie goalie Maxim Zhukov stopped 26 of 28 shots on Friday.
On Saturday, Newfoundland’s goaltending duties were shared by Patrick Munson and Ian Milosz, who combined to make 28 saves.
The Growlers travelled to St. John’s on Sunday to continue preparation for the start of the new ECHL schedule and their season-opener, this coming Friday against the Reading Royals at Mile One Centre.
However, Milosz won’t be with the team. He and three other tryout players — defenceman Mike Crocock and forwards Kevin Irwin and Taylor McCloy — were released on Sunday.
That leaves Newfoundland with 23 players (eight defencemen, 13 forwards and two goalies), including Munson, who will remain as the Growlers await the arrival of rookie netminder and Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick Ian Scott, who was injured during the training camp of the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.
When and if he shows up, Scott will fit in with an extremely young group. Only five Newfoundland players — Skirving, O’Brien, captain James Melindy, defenceman Michael Kapla and forward Aaron Luchuk — aren’t first- or second-year pros.