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Growlers finished road trip with fine shorthanded effort

Brady Ferguson scored two goals as the Newfoundland Growlers closed out a seven-game road trip with a win in Maine. — File photo/Newfoundland Growlers
Brady Ferguson scored two goals as the Newfoundland Growlers closed out a seven-game road trip with a win in Maine. — File photo/Newfoundland Growlers

Team won in Maine despite having just 15 skaters

The Newfoundland Growlers won their most recent game because of the way they played shorthanded … but we’re not talking about players in the penalty box.
In what would qualify as a contender for gutsiest performance of the season, the Growlers finished off a seven-game road trip with a 5-2 win over the Maine Mariners in ECHL play Saturday night in Portland, Me.

Newfoundland’s roster has been severely eroded by injuries and call-ups to the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies, so much so that the Growlers played with one less than the normal 16 skaters Saturday even though they used four players recently brought in from Southern professional Hockey League teams.

The latest roster loss was big rookie Justin Brazeau, recalled to the Marlies just before Saturday’s contest, which started less than 22 hours after the end of Newfoundland’s previous game, a 6-4 loss to the Worcester Railers Friday night in Massachusetts.

For those keeping count, Brazeau’s promotion means the Growlers have an 11-player shortfall due to recalls to the AHL and injuries.

Six of those 11 — defencemen Joseph Duszak and Mac Hollowell and forwards Brazeau, Matt Bradley, Scott Pooley and Aaron Luchuk — are with the Marlies, while the other five — defencemen Alex Gudbranson, James Melindy and Sergei Sapego and forwards Zach O’Brien and Reid Jackman — are hurt.

In Portland, first star Brady Ferguson had two goals plus an assist and third star Angus Redmond made 28 stops in the Newfoundland goal as the Growlers (13-8-0) moved to with three points of the North Division-leading Reading Royals.

The game was tied 2-2 approaching in the midway point of the third period when Ferguson delivered the game-winner on a Newfoundland power play. It was Fergusons’ team-leading 11th   goal of the 2019-20 campaign.

Ferguson’s linemates, Marcus Power and Trey Bradley (taking O’Brien’s place), also scored for the winners, who got an empty-net goal from Dylan Vander Esch, one of those four players brought in from the SPHL. The other recent additions are defencemen Mike Crocock and Meirs Moore and forward Daniel Perez. Moore and Perez are the latest arrivals, having joined the Growlers just before Friday ’s game in Worcester

Trey Bradley and Vander Esch also had helpers for two-point nights.

Vander Esch, who joined Ferguson with a plus-three rating Saturday, has four points in his three games with Newfoundland.

Ted Hart and Jake Elmer had the goals for Maine (8-9-1).

The Growlers are back in St. John's for a quick four-game homestand that begins Tuesday night at Mile One Centre and concludes Saturday.

The Royals (14-6-1) are their opponents Tuesday and Wednesday, while the Railers (5-12-1) are at Mile One this coming Friday and Saturday.

Dog Bites

To date, the Growlers have played 12 of their 21 games on the road, going 7-5-0 in those away games … Newfoundland brought O’Brien off the reserve list before Saturday’s game, but that was a paper move to bring the team up to a 20-man active roster, something needed for proper salary-cap calculations. O’Brien was injured earlier on the road trip and actually returned to St. John’s last week …
 

brendan.mccarthy@thetelegram.com
Twitter: @telybrendan

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