Growlers right at home in Mile One dog­house

Team has won 15 of 20 at home, in­clud­ing 3-1 vic­tory over Thun­der Satur­day in front of big crowd

The Western Star - - SPORTS - BY BREN­DAN MCCARTHY

After all this, Ryane Clowe and the New­found­land Growlers are go­ing to hate to leave home.

The Growlers downed the Adiron­dack Thun­der 3-1 Satur­day night and they did it in front of a sub­stan­tial sup­port­ing sec­tion, a crowd of just un­der 5,000, one of the largest turnouts for an ECHL game at Mile One Cen­tre this sea­son.

It was the fifth straight win for New­found­land (25-11-1), with all five vic­to­ries com­ing at Mile One.

Clowe says it’s nice to have back­ing from al­most-full stands, but he also sees it as im­por­tant in mar­ket­ing the ex­pan­sion team, which is still try­ing to make in­roads with the lo­cal hockey faith­ful, es­pe­cially those still not sure about the ECHL after two decades of Amer­i­can Hockey League play in St. John’s.

“For me, it’s im­por­tant to get the crowd here so they can sim­ply see the hockey, be­cause I think it’s good hockey and will get even bet­ter as it goes along. We have a good team, good play­ers, guys mak­ing a lot of plays. It’s a good brand,” said Clowe, whose side has won 15 of its 20 games so far at Mile One. “We’re re­ally good at home. We’ve found ways to win those back-to-backs here, which can be tough.”

But if the Growlers are to ex­tend their win­ning ways, they’ll have to do it on the road.

Satur­day’s game, which was wit­nessed by an of­fi­cial 4,912, clewed up a six-game home­s­tand, which be­gan on a sour note — a 2-1 loss to the Jack­sonville Ice­men — but got a whole lot bet­ter, with the Growlers outscor­ing the op­po­si­tion 27-13 in the en­su­ing five vic­to­ries, in­clud­ing a 6-3 de­ci­sion over the Thun­der Fri­day night.

Satur­day’s re­match saw Adiron­dack deal­ing with a deficit be­fore the open­ing face­off. In­juries and ill­ness meant the Thun­der dressed just 14 skaters, two less than seen in a nor­mal ECHL lineup

In fact, of those 14 dressed, seven are nor­mally listed as de­fence­men.

Clowe said he did bring up the op­po­si­tion’s lineup trou­bles be­fore the game, but his in­for­ma­tion came with a warn­ing la­bel.

“Some­times, you’re touch and go about telling the guys that sort of thing be­cause maybe they’ll let their guards down think­ing it’s go­ing to be an eas­ier night,” he said. “So I told them the Thun­der was go­ing to be a des­per­ate team.

“And they were. They played hard. But I think we re­sponded pretty well. I didn’t like our first pe­riod, but we got bet­ter as we went along and I think the third was our best pe­riod.”

That third saw Scott Poo­ley score his sec­ond goal of the game for New­found­land, while a Growlers’ penalty kill that’s been among the ECHL’s best this sea­son got the home side through a tricky stretch when it was tagged with back-to-back mi­nors.

After be­ing un­able to make any­thing out of those pow­er­play chances, the Thun­der — vis­i­bly tired in the late go­ing — couldn’t do any more dam­age, even with net­min­der Devin Buf­falo on the bench for an ex­tra at­tacker in the last cou­ple of min­utes of the con­test.

The Growlers got a goal in ev­ery pe­riod, with Poo­ley scor­ing in the first and Matt Bradley tal­ly­ing early in the sec­ond.

Poo­ley’s 16th and 17th goals of the sea­son moved him into a tie for the team’s scor­ing lead with Zach O’Brien, who had an as­sist Satur­day. Both have 33 points.

Seven New­found­land for­wards, Bradley in­cluded, have 26 or more points. All are rook­ies, ex­cept for O’Brien.

“It took a lit­tle bit of time, I think, for some of us young guys to ad­just to the pro­gram, es­pe­cially since it’s an ex­pan­sion team just be­ing put to­gether. But we’re al­most half­way through the sea­son now,” said Poo­ley,” I think you can see in games that we’ve got the chem­istry that’s needed.

“We know how each guy works. All of us first-year guys are learn­ing a lot from the older guys. At the same time, I think we are get­ting into our own rou­tines, learn­ing what it means to be a pro, on and off the ice.”

Cullen Brad­shaw had the only goal on Satur­day for Adiron­dack (20-12-5), which fell six points be­hind New­found­land in the race for first place in the ECHL’s North Divi­sion.

NEW­FOUND­LAND GROWLERS PHOTO/JOE CHASE

Matt Bradley scored his ninth goal of the sea­son in the sec­ond pe­riod of Satur­day’s 3-1 win over the Adiron­dack Thun­der, beat­ing an out­stretched goal­tender Devin Buf­falo.

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