Toronto Maple Leafs: Newfoundland Growlers win Kelly Cup in inaugural season

In their first season in franchise history, the Newfoundland Growlers won the Kelly Cup in six games over the Toledo Walleye

Most teams are just looking for sustainable play and decent results in their inaugural season in a league. Not the Newfoundland Growlers, the Toronto Maple Leafs ECHL affiliate.

After finishing second in the Eastern Conference in their first ECHL campaign, the Growlers decided to go ahead and make a run to the Kelly Cup Final.

Newfoundland couldn’t close out their series against the Toledo Walleye on the road, but the team returned to the friendly confines of Mile One Centre, where a sold-out crowd was waiting for the Growlers to finish off the Walleye in Game 6 of the series.

It was Newfoundland who got on the board first with a goal from Matt Bradley late in the first frame.

The Growlers came out for the second period and took control of the game. Josh Kestner added to the lead just 1:03 into the frame. Toledo defender Kevin Tansey answered right back with a marker just minutes later, but the hosts weren’t going to let go of the lead.

Giorgio Estephan put his stamp on the series, scoring a pair of goals in a five-minute span to give the Growlers a 4-1 lead after 40 minutes.

The Walleye would get a pair of goals in the final frame, but couldn’t find the tying tally, as Newfoundland starter Michael Garteig made 23 saves on the night to help his team to a championship victory.

This championship victory will be cherished throughout the entire organization, but likely more so by some choice members of the team.

The Growlers have four players that hail from Newfoundland and Labrador. Captain James Melindy and assistant captain Adam Pardy are from Goulds and Bonavista, respectively. Zach O’Brien and Marcus Power – two of the team’s top scorers in the regular season – both hail from St. John’s, where the Growlers play out of.

Team president Glenn Stanford and short-term assistant Darryl Williams are also from The Rock.

The future is beyond bright for the Growlers. Leafs general manager has said that he plans on using Newfoundland as another level for developing prospects. He showed that by sending Semyon Der-Arguchintsev – the team’s 2018 third-round pick – to Newfoundland to finish out his 2018-19 campaign.

Brady Ferguson, Scott Pooley, and Derian Plouffe are all promising players who made appearances with the AHL’s Marlies this season.

Garteig and Eamon McAdam have also presented the organization with two additional options in the crease in case injuries arise in the AHL next season. Both tenders played for the Marlies this year, with McAdam playing in 19 games with the team.

Newfoundland has proven to be a hockey-hungry town, and they’ve now got a winner who will only get better with time.