It was a brief audition, but the Newfoundland Growlers really liked what they saw of forward Mark Tremaine last season.
Tremaine must have also liked the Growlers as he has signed a contract with the ECHL team after having earlier indicated he would be returning to university this year.
The 26-year-old Tremaine made his professional debut last season with Newfoundland, appearing in five contests — all on the road — and registering one assist before the season was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tremaine had joined the Growlers from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S., where he had been captain of the X-Men and had appeared in a school-record 146 U Sports games over five seasons, collecting 99 points (46 goals, 53 assists) and 232 penalty minutes. He helped St. FX to Atlantic conference championships in 2016 and 2017 and a national bronze medal in 2018 and was a conference second-team all-star in 2019.
“We didn’t get to see as much of him as we would have liked,” said Growlers head coach John Snowden
“In the short amount of time that we did have him, (we learned) his character is about as good as I’ve ever seen as a person and as a locker room presence. He competes every day. He can play everywhere, up and down your lineup. He’s a first-over-the-boards kind of penalty-killer. He can play hard minutes against top lines and relishes those moments.
“I thought it was an important thing to see how much more he can bring to our team and to see him jump into the pro game and develop as a pro player.”
A 6-1, 190-pounder from Dartmouth, N.S., Tremaine also appeared in 223 games in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Moncton Wildcats, Victoriaville Tigres and Saint John Sea Dogs, ironically matching his collegiate points total with 99.
After using up his five years of university eligibility and having his initial stint with the Growlers cut short, Tremaine had told the SaltWire Network he was looking at returning to St. FX to complete an education degree and work as an assistant with X-Men head coach (and Goulds native) Brad Peddle.
However, the Growlers chose to protect his ECHL rights over the summer, a certain sign they had interest. And when the contract was offered, Tremaine said accepting it “was a no-brainer
“I wasn’t really sure if I would ever have the opportunity to play professional hockey and to be able to do that on the east coast is pretty incredible,” he said. “I’m looking forward to that. I had a great time when I was there last year. It’s an unbelievable organization with a lot of support, especially from the AHL and NHL parent) Marlies and Maple Leafs.”
Tremaine is the fourth player signed to an ECHL contract by the Growlers for next season, joining defenceman and team captain James Melindy, rearguard Garrett Johnston and forward Todd Skirving.
The ECHL has tentatively set Dec. 4 as a start date for the 2020-21 season.