Coast-watch­ing: O’brien, Melindy be­gin­ning new sea­son in ECHL

Cody Don­aghey would have made three New­found­lan­ders in the league, but he’s been pro­moted to Belleville of the AHL

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - SPORTS - BY BREN­DAN MCCARTHY

Isn’t that the way it goes? On Wed­nes­day, the day af­ter The Tele­gram car­ried a story about three New­found­lan­ders start­ing the new sea­son in the Amer­i­can Hockey League, one mem­ber of that trio — de­fence­man James Melindy — was as­signed to the ECHL.

How­ever, the quota of play­ers from this prov­ince in the AHL re­mains the same to­day. That’s be­cause rookie rear­guard Cody Don­aghey of St. John’s has been pro­moted to the Belleville Sen­a­tors.

The 21-yearold had been with the ECHL’S Bramp­ton Beast, which hockey fans here prob­a­bly know as an af­fil­i­ate of the Mon­treal Cana­di­ens and the for­mer AHL St. John’s Icecaps. Af­ter five years in the Quebec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League, Don­aghey is start­ing the first-year of his NHL en­trylevel con­tract with the Ottawa Sen­a­tors, but since Ottawa doesn’t have its own ECHL af­fil­i­ate, it has been send­ing play­ers — Don­aghey in­cluded — to var­i­ous teams when mak­ing as­sign­ments to that league.

Don­aghey has at­tended the Sen­a­tors’ NHL camp and that of their new AHL team in Belleville be­fore be­ing sent to Bramp­ton in late Septem­ber. But with Ottawa hav­ing al­ready been be­set by in­juries on the blue­line, the trickle-down — or maybe in this case, the trickle-up — ef­fect has led to Don­aghey’s re­turn to the AHL Sens, who play in Syra­cuse tonight against the Crunch.

Tonight also marks the first games of the 2017-18 sea­son in the ECHL, with two New­found­lan­ders in that league both set to see ac­tion.

The 23-year-old Melindy is now with the Salt Lake City­based Utah Griz­zlies, who open on the road against the Colorado Ea­gles.

He has been with the AHL’S San Diego Gulls, but af­ter not see­ing any ac­tion dur­ing the first week of the Gulls’ sea­son, was shipped to the Griz­zlies.

Melindy, who is from Goulds, signed a two-way mi­nor-league con­tract with the Gulls over the sum­mer.

On a sim­i­lar deal is yet an­other player from Goulds, Zach O’brien, a cen­tre for the Wi­chita Thun­der. who start their ECHL cam­paign tonight at home ver­sus the Indy Fuel.

O’brien signed his twoway con­tract with the AHL’S Bak­ers­field Con­dors, the Cal­i­for­nia-based farm team of Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers, and the 25-year-old ac­tu­ally spent some time in Ed­mon­ton’s main train­ing camp be­fore be­ing as­signed to Bak­ers­field and then to Wi­chita.

The lat­ter move amounted to a re­turn of sorts for O’brien, who spent the ma­jor­ity of last sea­son in that Kansas com­mu­nity. In 32 games with the Thun­der in 2016-17, he had nine goals and 18 as­sists.

O’brien didn’t start last sea­son in Wi­chita. Af­ter three years in the AHL with Manch­ester Monar­chs and Chicago Wolves, he had headed across the At­lantic to play for Ravens­burg in Ger­many’s sec­ond di­vi­sion, but only stayed for a few months be­fore re­turn­ing to North Amer­ica and join­ing the Thun­der.

He also got into one AHL game in late March with the Bing­ham­ton Sen­a­tors (Wi­chita had been Ottawa’s af­fil­i­ate), scor­ing a goal in the process.

Of course, it will de­pend on his per­for­mance in Wi­chita, but there’s a de­cent chance O’brien will get back to the ‘A’ some­time this year, what with his 175 games of ex­pe­ri­ence in that league, the fact he’s un­der con­tract to Bak­ers­field and be­cause he wouldn’t fall un­der AHL rules lim­it­ing the use of play­ers withe 260 more games of ex­pe­ri­ence in the AHL, NHL or Euro­pean leagues.

For that mat­ter, the same ap­plies to Melindy, the for­mer Ari­zona Coy­otes draft pick who has ap­peared in 52 AHL con­tests, in­clud­ing three with San Diego at the end of last sea­son.

FILE PHOTO/WI­CHITA THUN­DER/JOHNNNA RAY­MOND

Zach O’brien (17) shown in ac­tion for the Wi­chita Thun­der against the Indy Fuel last sea­son, is back with the ECHL’S Thun­der, who open their 2017-18 cam­paign against the Fuel tonight in Wi­chita.

SAN DIEGO GULLS PHOTO

Af­ter start­ing this sea­son with the AHL’S San Diego Gulls, de­fence­man James Melindy has been sent to the ECHL’S Utah Griz­zlies.

Don­aghey

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