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High-scoring forwards from St. John's sign with German team, joining linemate Brady Ferguson in leaving for Europe
A couple of key pieces in the Newfoundland Growlers’ equation left the pound Tuesday, signing free agent contracts in Germany and leaving yet another big hole amongst the Growlers’ forward troops.
Zach O’Brien and Marcus Power, both St. John’s natives, signed one-year, free agent contracts with EV Landshut of the DEL2, the Tier II equivalent of the German Elite league.
Both are coming off American Hockey League/ECHL contracts with the Toronto Marlies and the Growlers.
The signings come after Brady Ferguson, the Growlers’ leading scorer and MVP this season who was also a free agent, announced over the weekend he signed with Rogle BK of the Swedish Elite league.
Ferguson was the Newfoundland Growlers’ leading scorer this season, and was fifth overall in the ECHL. The 25-year-old from Lewisville, Texas, had 24 goals and 63 points in 57 games.
Defenceman Michael Kapla, who split the 2019-20 season between the Growlers and Marlies, signed with Vasteviks IK of the Swedish second division over the weekend.
With some uncertainty surrounding the upcoming 2020-21 ECHL and AHL seasons because of COVID-19 and the pandemic, players are looking elsewhere for contracts, hence the recent signings of Power, O’Brien, Ferguson and Kapla overseas.
Power was fourth on the ECHL team in scoring last season, picking up 24 goals and 50 points in 51 games. Linemate and long-time teammate O’Brien was sixth on the Growlers with 25 goals – second to Justin Brazeau – and 46 points in 41 games. He also made five starts for the Marlies this past season.
O’Brien was the ECHL’s playoff MVP in 2019, the year the Growlers won the Kelly Cup league championship in their inaugural season.
Power was one of the Growlers’ first signings following a U Sports Canadian collegiate career at the University of Prince Edward Island, and four years in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.
O’Brien, a seven-year pro, has German DEL2 experience, having played the 2016-17 season with the Ravensburg Tower Stars (20-6-6-12).
The Growlers won 42 games in the ECHL this year, fourth-most in the circuit. They lapped the North Division, finished third in the Eastern Conference and finished fourth overall in the league.
Newfoundland set a new league home-ice win-streak record in 2019-20 with 19 straight victories at Mile One Centre, beating a record dating back to 1994-95 by the South Carolina Stingrays, who won 18 straight.