As heard on this week’s edition of Puck Yeah Podcast, the first player set to be announced as part of the 2018 Ice Hockey Classic is defenceman T.J. Brennan.
The New Jersey native currently plays for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in the American Hockey League and will provide a strong scoring presence for the USA team that will play against Canada this June in Auckland, Wellington, and Queenstown.
As a player who has previously come down to Australia for this tour, organiser Kerry Goulet was excited to have T.J. involved again, calling him “an unbelievable hockey player.” Brennan’s stats and accomplishments can definitely back that up. In 2014 and 2016 he won the Eddie Shore Award as the best defenceman in the league. For that 2015-16 season with the Toronto Marlies, he was scoring close to a point per game pace with 25 goals and 43 assists in 69 games – that led the team in scoring while also being tied for third in league scoring, a rare feat for a player of his position.
Brennan is considered to be an elite offensive defenceman at the AHL level and was recently announced in the 2018 AHL All-Star Classic rosters for the fifth consecutive year.
As the AHL affiliate to the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms are currently second in the Atlantic Division with a 23-12-5 record. Brennan is in the final year of his current two-year deal with the Flyers. At age 28, with his offensive skills from the blueline he could still provide a much-needed scoring boost to many NHL/AHL teams looking to bolster their lineup either at the Feburary 26 trade deadline or for the 2018-19 season.
In an interview with RadioSport Breakfast yesterday Kerry Goulet revealed that David Hanson (from Slapshot fame) will be the coach for the American team. The remainder of the USA and Canada team rosters for the 2018 Ice Hockey Classic are scheduled to be announced within the next couple of weeks.
Puck Yeah is a weekly hockey podcast produced in New Zealand. Subscribe on iTunes, SoundCloud, or with your favourite podcatcher to get every episode free.
(Photos sourced from Phantomshockey.com)