At long last, the day that Growlers fans worldwide have been waiting for has finally arrived as the club announces seven player signings for the 2021-22 season.
Returning to the Newfoundland Growlers from the 2019 Kelly Cup winning team are forwards Todd Skirving and Derian Plouffe, as well as defenceman Garrett Johnston. Forwards Marc Johnstone, Brendan Soucie, Orrin Centazzo and Nathan Noel round out this group of signings.
Skirving, 29, has been a Growler since the team’s inaugural season. He has amassed 19 points in 63 regular season appearances and opted out of playing last year to try his hand behind the bench as an assistant coach with Cranbrook of the British Columbia Hockey League. Skirving is a fan favourite here in St. John’s and potentially a candidate to be named the 2nd captain in team history following the retirement of James Melindy.
Plouffe, 26, signed an AHL deal with the Toronto Marlies in 2017-18 after a four-year commitment to Niagara University. He played in 56 games during the Growlers inaugural season and scored 23 points before spending the past two seasons with the Indy Fuel of the ECHL.
Johnston, 26, appeared in 96 regular season games throughout the Growlers first two seasons. In 19-20, he amassed 26 points in 57 games while being a stabilizing force on the back-end. That strong showing earned him his first AHL call-up to the Marlies, although he only played one game with them. Johnston joined the Utah Grizzlies after the Growlers opted out of the 2020-21 season.
Johnstone, 25, will be making his full-time professional debut this season after four seasons at Sacred Heart University. He earned conference First All-Star Team Honours for his 2020-21 season, which included 16 points in just 16 games.
Soucie, 26, had signed a contract to join the Growlers for the 2020-21 season, and now returns to suit up in the black, white and gold. He played four years of NCAA hockey with Army (the U.S. Military Academy) from 2016 to 2020 and spent the 2020-21 season with the SPHL’s Birmingham bulls.
Centazzo, 21, is the youngest and smallest player signed, standing at 5’8. The left winger is a dynamite goal scorer, scoring 44 goals in 63 games as a member of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers in his last full season in 2019-20. He finished eighth among all WHL skaters in points with 81 and second in goals scored.
Noel, 24, was a 4th round selection by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2016. The St. John’s born player comes home after spending his first three seasons split between Chicago’s AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, and the ECHL, with stints as a member of the Indy Fuel, Reading Royals, and South Carolina Stingrays.
Additionally, the Growlers announced two additions to the team’s hockey operations department: Assistant Coach Nathan McIver and Equipment Manager Nick Hornby. Head Athletic Therapist Neill Davidson also re-signed with the club.
McIver was most recently an assistant coach with the OHL’s Oshawa Generals. A former Vancouver Canucks draft pick who played 36 NHL games between 2006 and 2009 as a member of the Canucks and Anaheim Ducks. Hornby joins the Growlers following a five-year stint with the Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara IceDogs.
Lastly, breaking news from the Toronto Marlies:
News | We’ve signed forwards Zach O’Brien and Marcus Power to one-year AHL contracts. #ForeverStartsHere
— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) September 2, 2021
The “Super Newfs” are back in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization and will both likely spend most of the 2021-22 season as first-line players with the Newfoundland Growlers following their abrupt departure from EV Landshut of the DEL2 league.
O’Brien scored 46 points in 41 games with the Growlers in the 2019-2020 season, and Power netted 50 points in 51 games. Welcome back b’ys.