CORNER BROOK Jordan Bonneville will pull on the Royals sweater once again.
So, coach Ed Kearsey has another piece of the puzzle to work with as the lineup gets a shaking heading out on a road trip.
The 26-year-old defenceman from St. Agatha, Ont. will suit up for the Western Royals in a two-game set against the Clarenville Caribous ‚ÄĒ Saturday 8 p.m. and Sunday 1:30 p.m. ‚ÄĒ at the Clarenville Events Centre.
The newest import to join the team was among those on the Royals protected player list sent to Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador by Thursday‚Äôs deadline.
Royals president Ross Coates approached the steady defender with an offensive upside about returning to the team after losing the services of returning import Brad Woods after only two games.
In the fickle senior hockey world, general managers run into situations beyond their control such as work issues for players that leads to scrambling to find a replacement. Such was the case with Brad Woods, who only played two games before having to give up the weekend trek from Ontario when it was clear it would interfere with his full-time job.
No players were released by the Royals on deadline day and Coates has confidence the roster has what it needs to take it to the next level.
He‚Äôs particularly pleased to have Bonneville back in the fold.
Bonneville‚Äôs been playing in two seperate leagues in Ontario all year so he is expected to be in top physical form.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre obviously excited about picking up a player of Jordan‚Äôs calibre so late in the year,‚ÄĚ Coates said. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs ready to go and excited to come back.‚ÄĚ
Bonneville collected six goals ‚ÄĒ three of them on the power play ‚ÄĒ and six helpers in 23 games with the Royals in the inaugural season of the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League. The speedy right-handed shooter spent three seasons with Wilfred Laurier University of the Ontario University Athletic Association (OUAA) where he collected 13 goals and 20 assists in 71 career games. At six-foot-one, 195-pounds, Bonneville is a defender strong on the puck and has wheels to burn while eating up a lot of minutes.
Bonneville will be a welcome addition to a defence corps led by Stephen Simms and captain Steve North who has bounced around on both the back-end and right-wing depending on the available roster for the past number of seasons. Mike Lee, Roger Snow and Brad Rice will also be in the lineup for Kearsey‚Äôs defence corps.
Defencemen, Matt Boland and Ashley Coles, used by the coach to play aggressive minutes on the penalty kill in a sweep of the Gander Flyers, won‚Äôt be making the road trip to Clarenville.
Import centreman Brett Morrison, second in league scoring, won‚Äôt be making the road trip because of a lower-body injury, so the most explosive trio of the Royals won‚Äôt be intact.
Mark Tobin, a healthy scratch for the homestand against the Flyers, will be inserted back into the lineup and will take Morrison‚Äôs spot alonside Justin Barbour and Darren Langdon, who is tied for fifth in league scoring in a league where he has 20-plus years on some players.
Import Ryan Sparling, who will be encouraged to shoot the puck more often, will line up with Ryan Penney and Chad Earle for a second-straight weekend series.
Jake Easton is nursing a nagging injury so will help run the defence on the bench, Cory Blackmore is the only healthy scratch and six-foot-four forward Andrew Smith ‚ÄĒ a healthy scratch in the second game of the Gander series ‚ÄĒ will be reunited with Michael Hynes and Matthieu Berube.
Mark Robinson, tied for fifth in scoring alongside his old buddy Langdon, and Scott Doody have been playing some good hockey together so they will be expected to produce some points with Cory Blackmore flanking the right side for another multi-dimensional line combo.
Import puckstopper Mark Gillis, 3-3 since be acquired by the Royals, will be between the pipes for Saturday‚Äôs contest. Brad Dyke will be the backup goaltender.
The two franchises are deadlocked in the standings with 16 points apiece ‚ÄĒ second overall to the league-leading 15-1 Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts ‚ÄĒ with the Caribous holding a game in hand. The Cats and Gander Flyers play a home-and-home series with the first contest slated for Saturday at the Gander Community Centre as the Flyers try to move out a last-place tie with the idle Eastlink CeeBee Stars in a battle for the fourth and final playoff berth.