Earlier today, the Newfoundland Growlers’ AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, announced their season-opening roster ahead of their first game of the season tonight in Winnipeg against the Manitoba Moose.
Fans in Newfoundland and Labrador will have plenty of familiar faces to cheer for as nine former Growlers impressed during training camp and were named to the club’s opening night roster, including four forwards and five defensemen.
Kelly Cup champions Scott Pooley and Hudson Elynuik will return to Toronto for their second full seasons with the Marlies and will take on larger roles during this unique season. Pooley lit the lamp eight times in 30 games last season and will look to push his totals into the double-digits and beyond this season. No former Growler played more AHL games for the Marlies last season than Elynuik. He was consistent every single night and appeared in 53 games, good for sixth-most on the team.
Pooley and Elynuik will be joined at forward by a pair of recent Growler graduates, Colt Conrad and Justin Brazeau. While the duo combine for only four games of AHL experience, they more than make up for it with skill and finesse. Conrad finished second among all ECHL rookies last season with 32 assists, while Brazeau may have been the best rookie in the entire ECHL last season, earning a berth on the All-Rookie Team with a sensational 28-goal, 55-point campaign.
Blueliners Joe Duszak and Mac Hollowell split the 2019-20 season between the Growlers and the Marlies and both are poised to be full-time AHLers with the Marlies this season. Duszak’s 18 points in 23 AHL games last season was tops among all Growlers alumni. Hollowell plays a similar game and is not afraid to put up points from the blue line, collecting 12 points in just 34 games a year ago as a rookie.
Kristians Rubins, fresh off signing his first NHL contract with the Maple Leafs earlier this offseason, began his season in Denmark with the Frederikshavn White Hawks, and will be in mid-season form with 21 games already under his belt.
While he only appeared in a single game with the Growlers in 2018-19, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention Toronto’s first-round draft pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Timothy Liljegren, who will likely anchor the Marlies’ top defensive pairing and is the former Growler most likely to spend time in the NHL this season.
Also cracking the opening night roster but not yet eligible to play due to injury or travel quarantine is the Belarusian defenseman Sergei Sapego. The 21-year-old was among the youngest skaters in the ECHL last season and is hoping for a strong start to the season in Toronto.
Fans in Newfoundland and Labrador can catch tonight’s matchup between the Marlies and the Moose for free at AHLTV.com. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:00 PM CST, or 8:30 PM in Newfoundland.