With the regular season over for the Brampton Beast and a playoff position clinched, I have a full season at the ECHL-level under my belt. I thought it was only fitting that I handed out report card grades for the players who had appeared in more than 30 games this season.
Zach Fucale: B-
Having been sent to the Brampton Beast after a subpar season in the AHL last season, it was Zach Fucale’s time to shine and show the Canadiens management team that he was worthy of a 36th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. The starting job was handed to him and he embraced it. Fucale was among the league leaders in appearances, shutouts, and helped the Beast to its first ECHL playoff appearance. Fucale struggled at times with consistency and rebound control. Fucale has the discipline and drive to continue with his climb through the professional ranks.
Andrew D’Agostini: B
I’m not sure it’s fair to grade a goalie who took over the backup roll full-time halfway through the season, but Andrew D’Agostini has been as reliable as Fucale when counted on. A 5-year veteran of the OHL and CIS, D’Agostini sports near-identical stars as his goaltending partner. Seeing action in 22 games this season, and a 11-7-1 record, D’Agostini has helped the Beast earn valuable points this season. Not the prototypical size of today’s goaltenders, Andrew makes up for his lack of size with great lateral movement and a good glove hand. While he has been susceptible to high shots on the stick side and giving up the occasional soft goal, D’Agostini has proven to be a good partner with Fucale.
Tim Billingsley: B+
Tim Billingsley has had career numbers in his second year as pro, and is among the top four defencemen on the Beast roster. Billingsley goes about his game quietly and is one of those players who is rarely noticed on the ice. He is good positionally, and is good setup man on the point on the power-play. Billingsley makes a good first pass out of his zone and defends well coming back to his own end.
Willie Corrin: B
Willie Corrin is a true offensive defenceman, recording 23 points in 37 games this season. He has a good active stick and uses his size well to clear the front of the net. Corrin needs to play with more of an edge to his game, which would result in more of a well-rounded game. Corrin thinks offence first, though he rarely is caught up-ice. Willie is a good bottom-two defenceman at this stage of his career.
Reggie Traccitto: C+
Best described as a steady defenceman, Reggie Traccitto is a veteran who can play any role from top pairing to bottom pairing. Traccito lacks the foot speed to take risks offensively, but has the hockey sense to be rarely caught out of position. Traccito is well-suited to lead the penalty-kill corps for the Beast.
Mike Folkes: B+
Mike Folkes, playing in his fourth pro season, is a pleasant surprise for Brampton. In my opinion, Folkes is a candidate to have a letter on his sweater. Folkes is the best pure defensive defenceman on the team who exhibits solid footwork and great work ethic. While he is not gifted offensively, Folkes excels defensively and is well-suited for the ECHL game.
Jordan Henry: A
There is not much Jordan Henry does wrong, as he is among the league leaders in plus/minus and points as a defenceman. Henry is solid in his own end, and plays above the ECHL level on most nights. He is well suited if the opportunity exists to play in the AHL. If there is a minor fault to his game, it’s his penchant to not move his feet at times. That said, Henry is the top defenceman for the Beast.
David Ling: C+
David Ling joined the Beast midway through the season, and has played where he has been asked to play. More of a rover than a true winger, the veteran is best described as a thorn in the side of the opposition. Ling is slippery and finds the seams in the opposition’s coverage. Ling still possesses an NHL shot that beats most goalies at this level. Lacking in foot speed at this point in his career, Ling has the hockey sense to make up for it and is a very useful player for the Beast.
Luke Pither: B
Luke Pither has missed considerable time with injuries, but has still produced at more than a point-per-game clip this season and is fifth in team scoring. Pither is a good top line center for the Beast. Pither has good skating ability and is a top playmaker in the ECHL but lacks a pro shot.
Brandon Marino: A
Brandon Marino has exceeded expectations with his point totals this season (69 games played, 69 points). The diminutive captain of the Beast has played with an edge this season as well serving 70 penalty minutes (PIM). Marino is one of those players who does everything that is asked of him.
Chris Leveille: C
Chris Leveille has proved to be a serviceable player with the Beast. He has filled the role on the third line and has seen some power-play time. Leveille lacks the skating ability to see more time on the top two lines. However, he has good hockey sense and plays the game with a ton of desire. Leveille has recorded 41 points in 65 games this season, at his highest level of pro competition.
Chris Auger: C+
Chris Auger is a solid two-way player who moves up and down through the three lines. Just falling short of the 20 goal mark, Auger is another one of the Beast forwards who can fill different roles on the team. He possesses a good shot and is a good finisher on the power play.
Brandon MacLean: B+
Brandon MacLean is a true leader on the ice and is the top two-way centerman on the team. MacLean is solid on the draw and plays in both power-play and short-handed situations. Brandon is scoring at almost a point-per-game pace. While not blessed with great skating speed, MacLean does have the best hockey sense on the team and should excel in the playoffs for the Beast.
Mathieu Gagnon: C
Mathieu Gagnon has been a good utility player for the Beast seeing action in 44 games this season. Not possessing a great scoring touch, Gagnon is better suited as a defensive forward and fills that role well.
Connor Crisp: A+
Connor Crisp has remained injury-free for the first time in a long stretch in his career. Crisp has excelled at both ends of the ice for the Beast. Although he only appeared in 33 games this season, it appears that he is ready to make the jump to the AHL next season and fill the role he was drafted for: a power-forward. Crisp possesses an NHL-calibre shot and has worked hard on his skating resulting in good foot speed for a big man.
Luc-Olivier Blain: C
Luc-Olivier Blain is in his second year with the Beast and is a solid defensive forward. Given more ice time, I have little doubt that his scoring numbers would climb as he does have an offensive upside. Blain does the job that is given him on most nights.
David Pacan: A+
David Pacan is the league leader in goals in only 57 games. That says about all you need to know about this player. In my opinion, Pacan is the MVP of the team as he drive the Beast offensively. Pacan is a skilled playmaker recording 39 assists this season. He has a deadly shot and a great ability to see the whole ice. What holds Pacan back from reaching a higher level is his skating ability.
David Vallorani: A
David Vallorani is the the team leader in points and games played. The small forward has great skating ability and is not afraid to go to the dirty areas of the ice. Vallorani is a close second in my opinion as the Beast MVP. He will be counted on in the playoffs to continue his hot hand offensively.
All in all, this has been a very memorable year for the Brampton Beast. Individual and franchise records fell throughout the season. I’m certain that the playoffs will be an exciting time for this team and their fans.
Edited by Donna Sim