Bryan Gillis is anxious to get back on the ice with the Western Royals for another season because he likes how the team is shaping up for a championship run.
Gillis was pretty amped up about being the import goalie for the Royals in Corner Brook with the signing of some big names earlier this summer. But he’s happier to see the Royals fill out their full complement of import cards with two talented rearguards, one of whom is Gillis’ former teammate in varsity hockey.
The Royals have confirmed the signing of two defencemen — Moose Jayw, Sask., native Brennen Wray and Derick Martin of Timmins, Ont. — to import cards for the 2014 Central-West Senior Hockey League season.
Wray is Gillis’ former teammate, so the steady puckstopper knows what the Royals are getting with the signing of the 26-year-old. The two friends were teammates for two years with St. Francis Xavier of the Atlantic University Sport.
Gillis was impressed with the two import defenders who won’t be returning — Zack Firlotte and Parker Deighan — but realizes it’s a numbers game and changes are made in the hockey world all the time in an effort to build a winning team.
He believes Wray will provide the Royals with a big body who likes to play physical, but has a calmness about him in his ability to make the first pass to wingers in flight. Gillis said Wray’s ability to make the right play will make life a little more comfortable in the crease.
Gillis has been the No. 1 goalie for the Royals for the past two years and has faced his share of rubber from opposing teams. He’s had to stand on his head to win games for the Royals.
A native of East Hants, N.S., Gillis believes the Royals will contend this year with the team making key acquisitions up front earlier this summer with Hunter Tremblay and Chris Hulit as the hired guns expected to fill opposing nets with pucks to turn the team around.
Martin is also expected to be a key cog in the rebuild.
The 32-year-old defenceman was captain of the Utah Grizzlies of the East Coast Hockey League last season where he collected five assists in 55 regular season games. He spent the past six years with a number of teams in the East Coast Hockey League after getting his name on the scoresheet for 16 American Hockey League games from 2007-2009.
Who else will be added to the mix for the 2014 season remains to be seen, but anybody on the local scene who would like to crack the Royals roster will have a chance to do so this week.
The Royals will hold an open tryout tonight from 8:30 -10:30 p.m. and Thursday 7:30-8:30 p.m. at the Kinsmen Arena II.
The Royals will be playing out of the Pepsi Centre for the first time in three years. The four-team setup also includes the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts, Gander Flyers and Clarenville Caribous.