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Catching up with Matt Bradley

Thursday, April 8th
Catching up with Matt Bradley

Nobody has played more games in a Newfoundland Growlers uniform than Vancouver, British Columbia native Matt Bradley.

The third-year pro appeared in 123 regular-season contests in the black, white and gold through the first two seasons of the club’s existence. Unable to add to that total this season due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Bradley has taken his talents to the ECHL’s East Division as a member of the Greenville Swamp Rabbits.

The ever-smiling Bradley admits the pandemic has made playing this season very challenging, but he has been able to rise to the occasion, ranking third in team points heading into the final stretch of the season and having fun along the way.

“It’s just been different,” Bradley said of this wacky 14-team ECHL season.

“I was just getting comfortable in Newfoundland. I spent two years there and now, going to a new team, a new organization and with everything going on in the world and all the new protocols, it has taken a little bit to get used to. I’m lucky that I’ve been able to play the sport I love and go to the rink every day.”

St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador and Greenville, South Carolina are very different as far as cities go. The culture, the climate and the people may be on opposite ends of the spectrum, but Bradley has been able to find enjoyment in both of the ECHL cities in which he has called home.

“The biggest thing is I get to see the sun every morning when I wake up in Greenville,” Bradley joked.

“Greenville has been awesome. We have new ownership. The organization is really trying to take a turn. We have a great group of guys, a great coach. It’s been good. It’s the best possible outcome for not being in Newfoundland.”

But winning a Kelly Cup on the Rock has left a lasting impression on Bradley. Sure, the morning sunshine in Greenville is a great way to begin any day, but nothing compares to the crisp, damp air in downtown St. John’s the morning after a snowstorm, right Matt?

“I don’t miss the snow, but I’ll tell you this, I do miss the people,” Bradley said.

“I miss the buzz around town and the fans saying hi. That Newfoundland energy, I miss that. I miss that Newfoundland and Labrador politeness. People treat everyone the same. Going to Mile One Centre every day, passing a few people on the street asking how your day is going, that friendliness and that family feeling of the city and the whole province. That’s what I miss.”

Lucky for Bradley, he’s not undertaking this daunting season in Greenville alone. Fellow Growler and Kelly Cup champion Sam Jardine has been playing alongside Bradley all season long, and Bradley admits that made his transition much easier.

“He’s been great. He was a key part of the Growlers and he’s now one of our assistant captains too in Greenville,” Bradley said of his two-time teammate.

“It’s been nice having a familiar face at the rink since day one. We’ve just been running with it. We’ve had fun together this year, lots of dinners together. It’s been great.”

On the ice, Bradley has picked up right where he left off. His 11 goals places him on the first page of the ECHL goal-scoring leaderboard and has already collected his first professional hat trick in February against Orlando.

A different team means different roles and different systems, which Bradley believes has been good for his development.

“Personally, I’ve had a couple of hot runs and a couple of cold runs,” Bradley said.

“It’s been good. I found my offensive touch a little bit this year. I’ve been given a little bit more power play time. It’s different systems and structures in the South Division, but I think I’ve had a good year so far.”

With only 14 teams in the league, all clubs are fed a steady diet of games against many of the same opponents. For Bradley, that means a regular matchup against one of the Growlers’ most heated rivals, the Florida Everblades, a matchup he always looks forward to.

“Florida is the same old Florida,” Bradley said with a laugh.

“They’re good. They’re a lot like they were a couple of years ago, maybe even more skilled than they were when we beat them in the Conference Finals.”

Bradley believes that his time playing in Newfoundland has prepared him for the unique grind that this season has presented, and even went as far as to call the ECHL “one big North Division”. He feels that the experience that he and Sam Jardine earned as members of the Growlers has their club uniquely prepared to hoist the Kelly Cup once again.

“We know what it takes to win,” he said of he and Jardine’s Kelly Cup experience in Newfoundland.

“We know what that Kelly Cup Finals feeling is when you can’t hear yourself talk like in Newfoundland or Toledo. We have been trying to build that environment here with tips and little things that can help guys. It will be a big test with how good the league has been and how few teams will be competing at the end of the year. It’s going to be a fun finish.”

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Friday, March 8th
Idaho Steelheads @ Newfoundland Growlers
Puck Drops:
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Saturday, March 9th
Idaho Steelheads @ Newfoundland Growlers
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at
Newfoundland Growlers
NFL Newfoundland Growlers
Mary Brown's Centre
Idaho Steelheads
Newfoundland Growlers
Sunday, March 10th
Idaho Steelheads @ Newfoundland Growlers
Puck Drops:
4:00 PM NDT
Mary Brown's Centre
Idaho Steelheads
IDH Idaho Steelheads
at
Newfoundland Growlers
NFL Newfoundland Growlers
Mary Brown's Centre

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