Luc-Olivier Blain (Photo by Rabita Naqvi | © Rocket Sports Media) Mandatory Credit Required

by Mike Ries, Staff Writer, AHL Report

BRAMPTON, ON — The Brampton Beast opened the 2017-’18 season on the road with a hard fought 5-4 loss to the Adirondack Thunder.

It was a two-point game for returning Beast captain, Brandon Marino, with a goal and an assist. Rookie Thomas Ebbing also had a strong outing with a goal and an assist. It was the first professional goal for Ebbing as well as Jordan Boucher. Highly-touted Habs goaltending prospect, Michael McNiven, made his first pro start.

Brampton returned home to face the Manchester Monarchs who eliminated the Beast from the Kelly Cup playoffs last season in their home opener. They suffered their second loss in a row, a 4-2 defeat, in which the score was closer than the game itself. Brampton will again host the Monarchs for a second game on Tuesday morning.

Brampton has an added bonus this season with a great core of returning veteran players including Marino, Brandon MacLean, Luc Blain, Jordan Henry, Mitch Zion, Reggie Traccitto, Mike Folkes, Willie Corrin and Corey Durocher. This is an oddity for an ECHL team as they usually experience a high turnover of players year to year which speaks well of the organization and the leadership of coach Colin Chaulk.

(Photo by Rabita Naqvi | © Rocket Sports Media) Mandatory Credit Required

Along with a strong core of returning veterans, the Beast have a good crop of rookies including goaltenders McNiven and Marcus Holberg, and forwards Ebbing and Boucher.

This season, the Beast will receive players from the Laval Rocket (Montreal Canadiens) and the Belleville Senators (Ottawa Senators) of the AHL. One key player the Beast have received from Laval is multi-talented forward, Yannick Veilleux.

Veilleux spent most of last season with the St. John’s IceCaps. In 53 games, he recorded 16 points and 59 PIM after recording 11 points and 31 PIM in 11 games with the Beast.

Of all the Beast players, Ebbing stands out early into the season as their best player. Being blessed with great speed and good hands, he is the prototypical professional hockey forward.

A four-year player at Michigan State, Ebbing wasn’t projected as a goal scorer and played more of a two-way game. In his pro debut, Ebbing not only had a two-point game but was far and away the best player on the ice for Brampton in their home opener.

What Brampton lacks as most minor pro teams do at this stage of the season is cohesiveness. That will come in the first handful of games as the players get used to one another and the systems implemented by coach Chaulk.

What is evident to me in watching the home opener is the true lack of team speed, especially on the back end with their defence. The veteran pair of Jordan Henry and Willie Corrin especially struggled throughout the game and may have lost a step or two since last season.

The Beast have three games on the schedule this week, with a matinee date at the Powerade Centre on Tuesday with Manchester. Then a home-and-home series with the Kalmazoo Wings on Saturday and Sunday.

(Photo by Rabita Naqvi | © Rocket Sports Media) Mandatory Credit Required

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