BRAMPTON, ON. — On Sunday afternoon, the Brampton Beast welcomed the Florida Everblades, the ECHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes. This was the only time the two teams will face each other this season. Last season, the Beast played a three-game series in Florida against the Everblades and did not fare well losing all three contests.
To make matters worse the Beast have never beaten a team from Florida in franchise history. But this is a different Beast team, a team that hasn’t lost a game in regulation since the 20th of January.
Brampton ran into penalty trouble in the first period but good team defence kept the game scoreless after 20 minutes. Brampton led 1-0 after 40 minutes despite being outshot 27-17.
Zach Fucale shutout the Everblades with a 42-save performance and was the main reason the Beast earned their first win against a Florida based team in their young history. Fucale and his teammates are playing their best hockey of the season and it comes at the perfect time as the playoffs are right around the corner.
Brampton returned home early Sunday morning after another short but tiring road trip on the weekend. On Friday they played Division leaders the Manchester Monarchs and walked away with a hard fought 6-5 overtime victory. They then travelled to New York and faced second place Adirondack and despite a huge third period comeback fell 4-3 in a shootout.
Brampton gained three points in their last two games and closed to within three points of Division leading Manchester and a single point behind the Thunder for second spot. With 67 points the Beast have a seven point cushion on the Wheeling Nailers who sit fourth in the division and out of the playoffs. With their victory on Friday night the Beast reached 30 wins on the season and are currently on pace to break the franchise record of 33 set in 2013-’14.
David Pacan scored a pair of goals against Manchester and now hold the Beast franchise record for goals in a season with 31. That erased the mark of 29 set by Andrew Fournier also in 2013-’14. Pacan is second in league goal scoring trailing league leader Peter Sivak of Alaska by a single goal.
The Beast have experienced a power outage as of late as they have dropped from second in the league to ninth in power play efficiency. Still they sport decent numbers with the man advantage scoring at a 20.1 percent clip. They also remain ninth overall in the 27 team league in the penalty kill department. Killing off penalties at an 84 percent rate less than two percentage points off the league leader.
In roster news the Beast released goaltender Bryan Pitton and defenceman Mackenzie Braid from their respective SPC (standard player contracts.) Brampton signed defenceman Vincent Llorca to a SPC. Llorca a native of Pair, France was most recently the captain of the Laurentian University men’s hockey team of the OUAA.
With the season winding down the Beast are poised to claim their first playoff birth in the ECHL. If they continue to play the way they have over the month of February they may well claim a Division crown in the process.