The Newfoundland Growlers are set to play their first three games of the calendar year on the road this weekend as they travel to Kansas City for a two-game set with the Mavericks on Friday and Saturday night, before taking on the Tulsa Oilers on Sunday afternoon at BOK Center.
Newfoundland were last in action on New Year’s Eve in Glens Falls, NY where they took a single point in a 4-3 OT loss against the Adirondack Thunder — newcomer C.J. Hayes scored a pair of goals in his Growlers debut despite the loss.
Both Kansas City and Tulsa were last in action against the Allen Americans with the Mavericks coming out on top in a 3-2 shootout win this past Saturday, while the Oilers were topped 8-0 by the Americans the following day.
Tulsa and KC currently sit 4th and 5th respectively in the Mountain Division out West, even on points with 35 each with the Oilers having played two less games than the Mavericks.
These three fixtures mark the first non-divisional matchups for the Growlers this season. It will also be Newfoundland’s first meeting with the Mavericks since January 15, 2020 — a game the Growlers won by an emphatic 7-1 score line — and the franchise’s first ever contest against the Oilers.
Thanks in large part to their recent layoff, Newfoundland have slipped to second place in the North Division, trailing the Reading Royals by three points. With six games in hand to try and regain their spot atop the division, the Growlers will look no further than tonight to get started.
With plenty of transactions in both directions since the team last played some three weeks ago, Newfoundland have been able to address some of the holes in their roster ahead of this crucial road trip.
Goaltending tandem Keith Petruzzelli and Evan Cormier are both currently in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies and Manitoba Moose respectively. As a result, the Growlers have signed a pair of netminders in Brett Epp and Andrew D’Agostini to Standard Player Contracts, the latter of the two having spent the last two seasons with the Marlies.
Five additional returnees from stints in the AHL help fill out the squad as defensemen Garrett Johnston, Tristan Pomerleau and Noel Hoefenmayer are back with Newfoundland, as well as forwards Isaac Johnson and Gordie Green.
Rounding out the reinforcements is blueliner Ben Finkelstein who is on assignment from Toronto for the first time this season — Finkelstein was named to the ECHL All-Rookie Team last year while suiting up with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits.
Puck drops is set for 9:35 pm NL time on Friday and Saturday evening, while Sunday’s action gets underway at 4:35 pm. Growlers fans can watch all three games live on FloSports (subscription required), listen to the call on Mixlr, or follow along on Twitter (@NLGrowlers) for game updates and highlights.
WHO TO WATCH:
NFL – Zach O’Brien (F): Fresh off his well deserved All-Star nod — an event the veteran forward was unable to attend due to travel complications — O’Brien, who leads the Growlers with 28 points this season, will be eager to continue providing offence for his team as they look to open their 2022 account in a positive way.
KC – Nick Pastujov (F): Drafted by the New York Islanders in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Pastjuov brings a proven scoring thret to the table for the Mavericks. The 23-year-old leads KC in points with 34, good for 7th place overall in the ECHL.
TUL – Dylan Sadowy (F): A point per game player for Tulsa so far this season (31 points in 31 games), the former San Jose Sharks draft pick will surely be one of the key threats for Newfoundland to consider on Sunday.