The Newfoundland Growlers began their 2019 training camp Tuesday with 10 players who were with the team as it won the ECHL’s Kelly Cup championship in June.
That’s significant continuity, especially in the ECHL, which is known for transiency in teams’ rosters.
That continuity has extended to the Growlers’ coaching staff.
John Snowden is back for what would be his first full season as Newfoundland’s head coach, with assistant coach Darryl Williams, goaltending coach Marek Benda and video coach Paul Dagg all attending training-camp sessions which continue today and Thursday in Mississauga, Ont., before the team makes a jaunt to nearby Brampton for a couple of exhibition games.
Benda and Dagg were with the team all last season, but Williams only came onboard midway through the 2018-19 campaign. That was after Snowden was tasked to take over the top job when Ryane Clowe was forced to step down as head coach because of lingering concussion issues.
Williams was both a logical and convenient choice. The 51-year-old Mount Pearl native, who maintains his home in St. John’s, spent a decade as an NHL assistant coach with the Vancouver Canucks and New York Rangers.
The parent Toronto Maple Leafs, who make such revelations, haven’t officially announced Williams as a full-time hire, but his presence in Mississauga means that should happen soon.
Of the players on the Growlers’ initial training-camp roster, four were drafted by NHL teams, but only one of them was a selection of the parent Toronto Maple Leafs.
That would be rookie defenceman Mac Hollowell, who was the Leafs’ fourth-round pick in 2018.
The other three drafted players with Newfoundland weren’t signed by the teams that chose them. They are sophomore forwards Giorgio Estephan (6th round, Buffalo, 2015) and Matt Bradley (5th round, Montreal, 2015) and first-year goaltender Maxim Zhukov (4th round, Vegas, 2017).
That training-camp group now sits at 32 bodies, by the way, as the Growlers have added a fourth goaltender, 24-year-old Minnesota native Patrick Munson.
Munson played last season with Nottingham in Britain’s elite league after finishing up his collegiate career at Michigan Tech.
Munson joins Zhukov and tryouts Nathan Perry and Ian Milosz on the crease contingent, although the expectations are Newfoundland will be getting rookie netminder Ian Scott, a Toronto draft pick who is currently listed as injured with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.
Scott and another expected Growler, injured defenceman Alex Gudbranson, are among 29 players still on the roster of the Marlies, who received five players after the Leafs made their final roster cuts on Monday.
Growlers’ rookie forward Trey Bradley is the son of former NHL player Brian Bradley, who played over 650 big-league games, more then half of them with the Tampa Bay Lightning, but who also spent a couple of seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs
Trey Bradley, who was signed to an AHL contract out of Colorado College, was born in Tampa.
Chris Ballard, the Growlers’ play-by-play broadcaster, is with the team this week and will be calling Newfoundland’s two exhibition games Friday and Saturday in Brampton against the Beast.
The games will be available online through the Mixlr platform at mixlr.com/NLGrowlers.
Friday’s game has a 9:30 p.m. NT start time, while Saturday’s puck drop is at 6:30 p.m. NT.