by Mike Ries, Staff Writer, AHL Report
BRAMPTON, ON — The Brampton Beast returned home on Sunday afternoon after a short two-game road trip in which they split a pair of games. The Beast lost 5-1 to the Toledo Walleye (Detroit Red Wings), and defeated division foe, the Adirondack Thunder (Calgary Flames), 6-2. The victory over the Thunder vaulted the Beast back into first place by a single point over the Reading Royals.
The Manchester Monarchs are currently in the third spot in the North Division, three points behind the Beast. The Thunder occupy the fourth and final playoff spot with 74 points, and are five points up on the Wheeling Nailers (Pittsburgh Penguins).
The Beast welcomed the Fort Wayne Komets (independent) on Sunday, looking to increase their lead in the North Division. The Komets sport a 37-16-5-2 record, a reflection of the hard work and effort put in by their staff to field a team that competes with 22 other teams that have an NHL affiliation. The Komets have iced 36 total players this season.
This game saw the return of Dalton Thrower to the lineup for the Beast for the first time this season. Zach Fucale was the story of the first period, as the Beast were flat and looked like a tired bunch, not moving their feet and taking lazy penalties. In fact, they took four minor penalties in a row. However, their penalty kill didn’t disappoint and Fucale stopped all 17 shots that he faced. The Beast could only manage four on veteran Pat Nagle.
Franchise records continue to be broken by this year’s version of the Beast. Jordan Henry is two points away from breaking the franchise mark of 53 points by a defenceman set by Matthew Malone. Henry and Luke Pither have been the hottest Beast players over the last stretch of games as Henry has recorded 11 goals in his last 15 games. Pither, coming off injured reserve, has been on fire with five goals and two assists in his last four games.
Captain Brandon Marino is also set to break the franchise record for points. This season, he has 59 points in 61 games (17 goals, 42 assists). He is tied with former Beast player Bryan Pitton with a 100 career points.
In roster news, the Beast are all set to head into the playoffs in April. The only move that they have made over the past was week was to release forward Scott Jacklin from his standard player contract (SPC). Jacklin appeared in 23 games this season for the Beast recording six points and 13 penalty minutes (PIM).
The Beast continue to be near the top on special teams in the ECHL. Brampton is currently fourth overall on the penalty kill operating at a 84.6 percent rate, a mere 0.8 percent of the league lead.
On the power-play, the Beast sit ninth overall in the league scoring at a respectable 19.7 percent. However, they have given up 12 shorthanded goals over the season, which is still an area of concern for the coaching staff.
The Beast will be hosting the Orlando Solar Bears for three games over four days starting on Thursday, and it appears that all three games are sold out. The Solar Bears are the ECHL affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Brampton will look to earn its first victory in franchise history against them and solidify their playoff position.
Edited by Donna Sim