Brandon MacLean Shines for Beast in 4-2 Loss to Solar Bears
ORLANDO, FLORIDA-Brandon MacLean continued his red-hot scoring surge for Brampton Beast with a two-goal performance at the Amway Center on Thursday night, but he and his teammates fell 4-2 to the Orlando Solar Bears in the opener of a three-game road series and had a two-game winning streak snapped.
The product of Burlington, Ontario’s sixth and seventh goals of the season extended his points streak to four games. The 30-year-old has potted a remarkable four goals and six assists for 10 points during this run.
MacLean was indeed the standout player, but the Beast (7-4-1-2) as a team turned in a solid effort by pumping 34 shots on the Orlando net in this matinee game on American Thanksgiving. Beast starting goaltender Zachary Fucale also delivered one of his best performances of the season with 33 saves on 36 shots.
While Brampton did have a couple of strong sequences in the attacking zone in the opening frame, it was the Solar Bears (8-5-2-0) that dictated the first period with their strong team speed and transition game.
Orlando’s solid work in the attacking zone was rewarded early as Patrick Watling scored the ice-breaking goal at 2:06.
Fucale rebounded from this early setback by making a series of strong pad and blocker saves to prevent the game from getting away from the Beast too early.
With the storm weathered, the Beast went on the attack in the latter half of the period and forced Ryan Massa to make some good saves. Chris Auger came the closest to tying the game with a breakaway chance, but his shot was ultimately denied with a goal-line stop.
Watling regained momentum for his team immediately after this save by scoring his second goal of the game, a power-play tally, with 47 seconds remaining in the first period.
Orlando outshot Brampton 19-12 in the first period.
Maclean made a statement that the middle stage of the game would be much different with his goal at the 42-second mark. He ignited his team with a smooth deflection of Mike Vernace’s hard slap shot into the opposition cage.
Succeeding this goal was one of the strongest periods of two-way hockey played by Brampton thus far this season. The visiting team dominated the puck possession game, which led to a steady stream of offensive pressure for them and very few high-grade scoring chances for Orlando.
The Beast’s stellar play was rewarded shortly after the midway point of the period as MacLean found the net again. The sniper took the puck off a clean faceoff win deep in the Orlando zone and beat Massa with a perfect off-wing wrist shot that picked the top left corner of the net.
Brampton continued to exert continuous chaos in the Solar Bears end zone to close out the second period.
Orlando had its edge on the shot clock trimmed to 26-25 after 40 minutes of action.
The third period saw the pace and the physical play in the game amp up as both teams battled to score the go-ahead goal.
It was the Solar Bears that broke through late in the game for the game-winning marker. Rookie Mason Marchment scored the first ECHL goal of his career to lift Orlando to a 3-2 lead with 5:39 left in the final frame.
Brampton was not able to score the equalizer despite pulling Fucale from the net. Tony Cameranesi confirmed an Orlando victory by scoring an empty-net goal at 18:40 to make the score 4-2.
Massa made 32 saves on 34 shots to earn the ‘W’
The Beast will attempt to avenge this loss on Saturday night when they tangle with the Solar Bears at the Amway Center for the second game in this three-game road series. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.
Notes: The Beast went 2-for-3 on the penalty kill and 0-for-2 on the power play. Brampton is now 0-4 in its lifetime ECHL meetings with Orlando. David Vallorani potted an assist and now has points in five consecutive games. He has four goals and four assists during this streak.
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