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It’s pretty much a new blueline crew for the Newfoundland Growlers

If Miles Gendron, acquired in a trade between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators organizations earlier this week, makes his Newfoundland Growlers debut tonight against the Florida Everblades, he’ll be the 17th different defenceman to suit up with the Growlers this season. — Belleville Senators photo
If Miles Gendron, acquired in a trade between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators organizations earlier this week, makes his Newfoundland Growlers debut tonight against the Florida Everblades, he’ll be the 17th different defenceman to suit up with the Growlers this season. — Belleville Senators photo

The makeover on the back end continues with Sapego’s recall

As the Newfoundland Growlers prepared to start their 2019-20 ECHL regular-season schedule, it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to suggest the six defenceman the team would dress to start the new season would be Michael Kapla, Joseph Duszak, Mac Hollowell, James Melindy, Alex Gudbranson and Sergei Sapego.

After all, five of the six were on NHL or AHL contracts, and the one that wasn’t — Melindy — is the team’s captain.

Tonight, as the Growlers begins a three-game weekend road swing through Florida, they will have none of those half dozen rearguards in their lineup.

Sapego is the latest departure, having been recalled to the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies, where he joins Kapla, Duszak and Hollowell; a league-imposed eight-game suspension means Melindy won’t be available until March 6; and Gudbranson, limited to just three games because of injury, is not expected back this season.

That means as Newfoundland takes on the Florida Everblades in Estero, Fla., tonight, the blueline corps will consist of Evan Neugold, Garrett Johnston and Tommy Panico, who have been with the team all year; Kyle Froese, brought in from the Southern Professional Hockey League two months ago; and three players who came to the Toronto Maple Leafs organization in recent trades.

Those three are Roberts Powers, Trent Bourque and Miles Gendron. Powers and Bourque played in the first part of what is a bisected road trip that started last weekend with a setback to the Reading Royals and a win over the Maine Mariners. The latter snapped a season-long four-game losing streak.

The North Division-leading Growlers (37-15-1) head into tonight’s game with a six-point lead over second-place Reading Royals. They’ll face a stiff challenge from the Everblades (38-13-3) who are third in the ECHL’s overall standings, just ahead of Newfoundland.

The road trip continues Saturday night in Orlando against the Solar Bears (25-24-6) and Sunday afternoon versus the Jacksonville Icemen (21-26-6), whose lineup includes forward John Albert, who spent fours seasons in St. John’s playing with AHL’s IceCaps when they were the farm team of the Winnipeg Jets
 

Twitter: @telybrendan

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