Growlers make a Power con­nec­tion

St. John’s na­tive be­comes the first of­fi­cial player on New­found­land’s ECHL team

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - SPORTS - BY BRENDAN MCCARTHY brendan.mccarthy@thetele­gram.com Twit­ter: @tely­bren­dan

The New­found­land Growlers have their first player. Mar­cus Power has an early birth­day present.

The Growlers have signed Power, a na­tive of St. John’s and a for­mer ma­jor ju­nior and Cana­dian univer­sity hockey star to a one-year ECHL con­tract. And while the Toronto Maple Leafs or­ga­ni­za­tion al­ready has a num­ber of play­ers un­der Amer­i­can Hockey League deals and who will prob­a­bly see time with the Leafs’ new ECHL af­fil­i­ate in St. John’s, Power is the first signed di­rectly by the Growlers. That of­fi­cially makes him the ini­tial player on their ros­ter.

The deal was a prod­uct of mu­tual in­ter­est and ideal tim­ing.

Power, who turns 25 on Satur­day, fin­ished a four-year ca­reer at the Univer­sity of Prince Ed­ward Is­land this past spring, just weeks af­ter the Growlers of­fi­cially joined the ECHL as an ex­pan­sion club.

“Once I saw a team was go­ing to New­found­land, I saw it as a way I could stay in North Amer­ica. That was al­ways my goal, to try things out (as a pro­fes­sional) here af­ter school,” said Power on Thurs­day.

Through his agent, the scor­ing for­ward reached out to the Maple Leafs, even­tu­ally learn­ing there could be an op­por­tu­nity to sign an ECHL deal with the Growlers.

He ad­mits he had orig­i­nally been seek­ing out an Amer­i­can Hockey League con­tract, but came to see the Growler’s of­fer as an op­por­tu­nity he couldn’t pass up.

“There was a time when you didn’t see many af­fil­i­a­tions (be­tween ECHL and NHL teams),” said Power, “but now it re­ally is an af­fil­i­a­tion league and a place you can grow your game.

“It means there is a real op­por­tu­nity move up to the AHL and for some guys, even to the NHL.

“In this case, es­pe­cially, it means your part of the Leafs sys­tem, plus I know how (pro) teams in St. John’s have been run over the years … al­ways first class. And then there’s the fan­base they have.”

“I couldn’t turn it down.” A clincher was when fel­low New­found­lan­der Ryane Clowe was named the Growlers’ head coach.

“That was ac­tu­ally a green light in my opin­ion,” said Power, who spent many off-sea­sons along­side Clowe work­ing out with St. John’s per­sonal trainer Bob Thomp­son.

“I saw the work ethic Ryane put in as a player, and the re­sults he would have be­cause of that. I ex­pect he has the ex­act same worth ethic as a coach and that he’ll be a great teacher.

“To be able to start my pro­fes­sional hockey ca­reer with him in my home­town was so in­trigu­ing to me.”

Power also did some re­search on the ECHL, talk­ing to friends and for­mer team­mates, in­clud­ing UPEI Pan­thers alumni like ex-line­mate Chris Des­ousa and de­fence­men Reg­gie Trac­citto and Ryan Mackin­non, who’d all gone on to play in the sec­ondtier mi­nor pro cir­cuit.

He also sought the coun­sel of Pan­thers head coach Forbes Macpher­son, who had played over 600 games in the mi­nor leagues, in­clud­ing one sea­son in the ECHL and part of an­other with the AHL’S St. John’s Maple Leafs.

“They all spoke re­ally highly of the ECHL. They say there’s a lot of skill and that it’s fast-paced,” said Power, who also noted that with just 16 skaters in ECHL game-day line­ups, the chance to show your stuff in­creases.

“There are usu­ally 10 for­wards and six de­fence­man, so if you’re a for­ward and in the lineup, you’re prob­a­bly not go­ing to re­ally sit on the bench.

“If you’re play­ing, you’re go­ing to get some ice­time. With that and it be­ing high-in­ten­sity, that works for me, es­pe­cially the way I play.”

The way Power plays is with of­fen­sive skills. In his first three sea­sons of At­lantic univer­sity play with UPEI, he ei­ther led the Pan­thers in scor­ing or shared the team points lead. Last sea­son, he led the school with 17 goals, and with 29 points in 30 games, was run­ner-up to Kameron Kielly in over­all scor­ing.

His univer­sity pro­duc­tion was a carry-over from his time in the Que­bec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League. Power, who had played ma­jor midget hockey with the St. John’s Fog Devils and 2010-11 At­lantic cham­pion Pri­va­teers, spent three full sea­sons in the QMJHL with the Rouyn-no­randa Huskies, where his team­mates in­cluded Sven An­drighetto of the Colorado Avalanche and Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Light­ning.

In his first two years in the ‘Q’, Power de­vel­oped a rep­u­ta­tion as a re­li­able two-way cen­tre, but by the time he en­tered his over­age cam­paign, he was high­scor­ing winger, amass­ing 109 points in 2013-14, sec­ond only in the league to fu­ture Detroit Red Wing An­thony Man­tha.

His four years at UPEI have seen Power earn a busi­ness de­gree (with a con­cen­tra­tion in fi­nance) and re­fine his game to the point to where he wants to find out if it will trans­late to the next level.

“I had a cou­ple of Euro­pean op­tions for next sea­son, but I al­ways said that when I was com­ing right out of school, my first choice would be to stay in North Amer­ica and if I had to, lean to­wards (Europe) later,” said Power.

“I wanted to start in North Amer­ica, to test my­self and to prove my­self what I can do. I want show what my game is and find out where it is.

“This is the time and the place for that.”

Power has spent the last cou­ple of off-sea­sons in Char­lot­te­town, and out­side of a brief trip home to St. John’s, will re­main in P.E.I. for most of the rest of the sum­mer.

But he won’t be just soak­ing up the sun at Cavendish or Brack­ley Beach.

“I’m train­ing five or six days a week and skat­ing two or three times,” he said. “It’s def­i­nitely a com­mit­ment, but if you put in the work in dur­ing the sum­mer, you will def­i­nitely see the re­sults on the ice in the fall and win­ter.

“For me, that’s more im­por­tant to me than ever.”

“I saw the work ethic Ryane (Clowe) put in as a player, and the re­sults he would have be­cause of that. I ex­pect he has the ex­act same worth ethic as a coach and that he’ll be a great teacher. To be able to start my pro­fes­sional hockey ca­reer with him in my home­town was so in­trigu­ing to me.”

Mar­cus Power

SALTWIRE NET­WORK FILE PHOTO/CHAR­LOT­TE­TOWN GUARDIAN

Af­ter three-plus sea­sons in the QMJHL and four more with the Univer­sity of Prince Ed­ward Is­land Pan­thers, St. John’s na­tive Mar­cus Power is ready to take his game to the next level at home with the ECHL’S

FILE PHOTO/UPEI

Mar­cus Power, shown ear­lier this year with UPEI Pan­thers head coach Forbes Macpher­son at a cer­e­mony to honour grad­u­at­ing play­ers, av­er­aged nearly a point per game (107 points in 110 GP) over four sea­sons with the Pan­thers.

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