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After sweeping three weekend games in New England, they return home with a franchise-record nine-game victory streak
After winning their franchise-record ninth straight game by completing the sweep of a three-game weekend road trip, the Newfoundland Growlers were looking forward to their reward.
A decent night’s sleep.
The Growlers blanked the Maine Mariners 2-0 Sunday afternoon, with goalie Parker Gahagen recording his first ECHL shutout. It gave Newfoundland three wins in 68 hours, two of them against the Mariners.
This wasn’t Barry Manilow’s pleasant “Weekend in New England.”
Weather and a cancelled flight Wednesday meant the Growlers had been delayed for a day-and-a-half in getting to Portland for a game Friday night. So, after flying to Toronto on Friday morning, then catching a connecting flight to Boston, followed by a bus trip to Maine, the Newfoundland team arrived at the Cross Insurance Arena 90 minutes before the start of the game, just long enough to have the gear unpacked and for the Growlers to get suited up.
But despite haven’t what might be seen as a built-in-excuse to have their winning streak ended, the Growlers came away with a 3-2 win over the Mariners, with Gahagen making 31 saves.
Then it was back on the bus for a trip to Worcester, where they arrived in the wee hours of Saturday morning. That night, Newfoundland beat the Worcester Railers 5-3, with Trey Bradley scoring twice and Angus Redmond posting his eighth win in as many starts for the Growlers.
The bus was warming up again, this time for a post-game return trip to Portland and a Sunday afternoon rematch that saw Brady Ferguson register a goal and an assist, Marcus Power score his team-leading 16th goal of the season and Gahagen stop all 34 shots he faced in a first-star performance.
It meant the 26-year-old from suburban Buffalo exited the weekend owning a 7-1-0 record, 1.97 goals-against average and .939 save percentage in addition to the new American Hockey League contract he signed just before the start of the road trip.
And the 3 p.m. local start meant he and his teammates exited Portland early enough so that were able to check into a hotel before midnight, despite making another bus trip, this time to Boston, where they’ll fly out of this morning.
“We’ve got a pretty tired group …it’s been chaotic to say the least, but it’s a resilient group,” said Newfoundland head coach John Snowden after Sunday’s win.
“They keep on showing that night after night”
They’ll have to show it again this week. The Growlers (27-10-0) get back to St. John’s today, just about 24 hours before they’ll begin a two-game series at Mile One Centre, where they face the Kansas City Mavericks Tuesday and Wednesday.
When asked how he thought his team would be able to handle having to play five games in six days all tied together by considerable travel, Snowden began his answer with a quip.
“They had a 10-day break at Christmas, so they’re well-rested,” he said.
“But seriously, it won’t be easy and they’ll appreciate the time off after Wednesday (the Growlers have a nine-day break in the schedule after finishing the games against Kansas City).
“But this is a team that’s been at its best when things aren’t easy.”
The Growlers’ nine game winning streak isn’t just the longest in the franchise’s year-and-a-half existence. It’s the longest in the ECHL this season … North Division-leading Newfoundland is eight points ahead of the second-place Brampton Beast, with a game in hand … Forward Justin Brazeau wasn’t in the Growlers’ lineup Sunday afternoon. Snowden said the big winger wasn’t injured, that it was simply a rest day for the rookie …