Get excited, Growlers fans.
Last night, the Newfoundland Growlers kicked off their preseason the schedule the right way, skating away with a 5-2 win over the Brampton Beast at the Cassie Campbell Centre in Brampton.
Before we turn the page and focus on tonight’s rematch at Earnscliffe Arena at 5:00PM ET/6:30 NT, I wanted to share my thoughts on what was an exciting first preseason game.
First and foremost, I’d like to thank each and every one of you who tuned into last night’s broadcast on Mixlr. It’s still crazy and awesome to me to think that there were a couple hundred people willing to stay up late on a Friday night in October to listen to preseason hockey. You’re the best fans in the world and we appreciate you.
Now, to the game. Yes, it’s preseason. Yes, it’s too early to take anything big away from a single exhibition performance. But I’m sorry, last night has me fired up.
The Growlers kicked off the game with a very quick start. Todd Skirving slammed home a rebound less than five minutes into the game for the early lead and I, admittedly, went berserk. Skirvs scored just three goals last season and to see him rewarded for his great camp with the first goal of the preseason was just awesome.
And the boys kept coming. Newcomer Riley Woods and Super Newf Marcus Power paced the Growlers to a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Brady Ferguson sniped his first of the preseason off the post and in in the dying minute of the second to make it a 4-0 lead.
Not taking anything away from Brampton, but it was obvious that the bulk of the Growlers squad had the last month to gel both on and off the ice and they were able to hit the ground running.
The game shifted a bit in the third period. The top lines on the Growlers squad seemed to get a few shifts off in favour of some of the tryout players as the coaching staff wanted to get a good in-game look at what they have to offer.
And they had plenty to offer. Taylor McCloy (1A) and Kevin Irwin were buzzing all night long and will give the coaching staff plenty to think about when making final roster decisions.
For you stats geeks out there, allow me to pull some of the more telling numbers from game one of the preseason.
- 6: That’s the number of points collected by the Growlers top line of Marcus Power (1G, 1A), Zach O’Brien (2A) and Brady Ferguson (1G, 1A) through just 40 minutes of play. Multi-point games for all three skaters. The chemistry from last season? It’s still there. The top line swept the Three Star selection as well.
- +4: The plus/minus for Growlers defenseman Tommy Panico, who led both teams in the category. On a squad with a lot of returning players and even more guys who have been skating together for weeks, it’s great to see a new guy get involved and gel as well as he did last night.
- 1: The number of pucks to get behind Growlers starting goaltender Maksim Zhukov. Yes, the score of the game was 5-2, but the second Brampton goal never crossed the line, as admitted by several Brampton skaters after the game. Zhukov made several big saves and showed poise throughout his performance. The only puck to beat him was a perfect, bouncing deflection that beat him five-hole. Already looking forward to his next performance.
- 6: Days remaining until Opening Night and until the Kelly Cup Championship banner becomes a permanent fixture at Mile One Centre. Get your tickets NOW: https://nlgrowlers.com/en/tickets
- 5:00PM ET/6:30pm NT: That’s the time for tonight’s rematch! I’ll be live on the air from Brampton 15 minutes prior to puck drop. Let’s do it again!