BY MIKE MASTOVICH
Randy Rowe was one of the most productive and hard-working players on the Johnstown Chiefs last season.
That made Rowe popular with the fans and a leader on the ice.
Will there be an encore?
The 26-year-old left wing said he probably will know today whether or not the ECHL Chiefs and their NHL parent club, the Tampa Bay Lightning, will be in his future.
“It’s one of those decisions that I’ve got to make sure I’m in the right place to hopefully advance my career to go to the next level,” said Rowe, who last season was under contract to the Springfield Falcons – the Chiefs’ AHL affiliate. “That’s why I’m taking a little bit of time to think.
“There was just a lot of talking with teams,” added Rowe, who was in Johnstown on Thursday. “I’m not getting any younger. I just want to make sure I’m in the right place to get called up to an AHL team. Camps are starting Saturday and Sunday in the AHL. It’s one of those things that it’s your future and you’ve got to make sure you make the right decision.”
Despite contending with an abdomen problem and a near season-ending neck injury, Rowe still scored 28 goals and 43 points in 45 regular-season games with the Chiefs. He also had two goals and four points in five playoff games.
Rowe had established himself as one of the ECHL’s top players during the four previous seasons with the Peoria Rivermen. He had a knack for scoring big goals against the Chiefs in those days.
“Randy Rowe is a great addition if he wants to play with Johnstown and be with the Johnstown Chiefs,” Chiefs coach Frank Anzalone said when reached Thursday, while returning home from Tampa Bay’s training camp. “He would be a tremendous, tremendous addition. He’s one of the leading players in the league and if he gets a call up, we would never hold him back.”
The 5-foot-11 Burford, Ontario, native said he’s had discussions with four other organizations in addition to Tampa Bay.
“I’m definitely thinking about Tampa-Springfield-Johnstown again,” said Rowe, who has appeared in 20 AHL games, including three last season in Springfield.
“I really enjoyed my time in Johnstown last year,” he said. “I felt that it was a learning experience. I had the same coach in Peoria (Jason Christie) for four years and was up and down a little in the AHL. Frank Anzalone is such a good teacher on the ice. He gets the guys to learn, especially the younger guys.”