BRAMPTON, ON — Coming into this weekend, the Brampton Beast have just 10 games remaining in the 2017-’18 ECHL regular season. The Beast trail the Wheeling Nailers, presenting sitting in the last playoff spot in the North, by 11 points. It will be a daunting task, to say the least, to catch the Pittsburgh Penguins ECHL affiliate.
Last Sunday, in a game that was a microcosm of their season, the Beast dropped a heartbreaking 3-2 decision to the Cincinnati Cyclones after battling hard, all game long. The odds are getting slimmer and slimmer that the Beast will challenge for fourth spot in the North.
The month of March started well with a 2-1 home victory over Kalamazoo. Unfortunately that was followed by a loss in Kalamazoo, and then two home losses to Toledo and Reading. Brampton played one of their most inspired games a week ago last Friday evening with a 4-3 win over the Norfolk Admirals before hosting the Cyclones on Sunday afternoon.
At this juncture of the season every point is crucial for the Beast if they have any hopes of making the Turner Cup playoffs.
The Beast have continued to receive scoring throughout their lineup with 12 players in double digits. The major problem is their inability to convert on the power-play as they are currently ranked 23rd in the 27-team league. Brampton has only managed 32 power-play goals and allowing nine shorthanded goals against so far this season.
On a bright note, the Beast have one of the strongest penalty-killing units in the ECHL only allowing 37 goals against while being a man short. Oddly enough, the penalty-killers have registered nine goals while shorthanded, currently third best in the ECHL.
The main reason this season has been disappointing, in my opinion, has been the amount of roster moves as Brampton players have been shuffling back and forth between Laval and Belleville all season and have had little time to gel as a cohesive unit.
Forward Brandon Marino continues to lead the Beast in scoring with 51 points in 60 games this season. Center Alex Foster, who was on fire when he first joined the Beast this season, has tailed off considerably. That said, Foster has still recorded a respectable 28 points in 49 games with Brampton. Their linemate, Chris Leveille, is second on the team with 46 points including 16 goals.
Brampton is led on the back end by veteran Reggie Traccitto and reliable Jordan Henry with 28 and 21 points respectively this season. Brampton sorely misses defencemen Willie Corrin and Matt Petgrave who have found homes in the AHL for much of the season.
In roster news, the Beast made a trade with the Toledo Walleye receiving forward Erik Bradford for steady defenceman Jamie Doornbosch. Bryan Cameron remains on injured reserve with the Beast. Matt Petgrave was returned to the Beast by the Belleville Senators.
The weekend ahead for the Beast features a road game in Reading against the Royals on Saturday before returning to the Powerade Centre on Sunday to host the Adirondack Thunder.