SERIES PREVIEW: North Division Final – Brampton Beast vs Manchester Monarchs
Brampton Beast (3rd Seed) vs Manchester Monarchs (4th Seed)
Regular Season Records: Brampton (40-24-3-5, 88 PTS), Manchester (37-24-7-4, 85 PTS)
Game 1: Manchester at Brampton – Thursday, April 27, 7:15 p.m. at Powerade Centre
Game 2: Manchester at Brampton – Saturday, April 29, 7:15 p.m. at Powerade Centre
Game 3: Manchester vs Brampton – Monday, May 1, 7 p.m. at SNHU Arena
Game 4: Manchester vs Brampton – Tuesday, May 2, 7 p.m. at SNHU Arena
Game 5: Manchester vs Brampton – Wednesday, May 3, 7 p.m. at SNHU Arena (if necessary)
Game 6: Manchester at Brampton – Friday, May 5, 7:15 p.m. at Powerade Centre (if necessary)
Game 7: Manchester at Brampton – Sunday, May 7, 2 p.m. at Powerade Centre (if necessary)
HEAD TO HEAD MATCHUP
Both the Manchester Monarchs and the Brampton Beast won their respective Game Six matchups in the opening round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs to set up a heated North Division Final starting Thursday, April 27 at the Powerade Centre in Brampton. The Beast and the Monarchs met only three times during the 2016-17 ECHL regular season, with the Beast owning a slight 2-1-0-0 edge over their division rivals.
These two teams first met on February 24 at SNHU Arena in Manchester, when David Pacan tied the game with 34 seconds remaining in regulation time with his 31st goal of the season and defenseman Reggie Traccitto completed the comeback with the overtime winner just 23 seconds into the extra period to lift the Beast to a 6-5 OT victory.
The Beast and the Monarchs ended the regular season with a pair of games at the Powerade Centre on April 7 and April 8.
In the first game of the final series of the season on April 7, Guillaume Asselin scored his first professional goal early in the first period but Monarchs goaltender Charles Williams stopped 27 of the 28 shots he faced to help the Monarchs edge the Beast 4-1. Rihards Bukarts, Kevin Morris, Daniel Doremus and Chris Leone each lit the lamp for Manchester.
A day later on the final day of the regular season for both squads, Chris Auger scored to tie the game early in the third period and Luke Pither sealed the deal with a goal with just over two minutes remaining in regulation time as the Beast edged the Monarchs 5-4, giving the Beast their 40th win of the season.
Chris Leveille led the Beast in scoring against the Monarchs through those three regular season matchups, scoring a pair of goals and adding three assists for five points in three games played. Connor Crisp (1G, 3A), Brandon Marino (4A) and David Vallorani (4A) are all right behind with four points against the Monarchs.
Monarchs captain David Kolomatis had a good regular season against Brampton, recording five assists in three games against the Beast. Of the three different goaltenders that suited up against the Beast in the regular season, Charles Williams fared the best, allowing one goal on 28 shots to help the Monarchs to a 4-1 win over the Beast on April 7.
HOW THEY GOT HERE
The Brampton Beast squared off against the Reading Royals in their first ever Kelly Cup Playoff berth and dispatched their opponents in six games to win the North Division Semifinal.
In spite of a stellar 34-save performance between the pipes from Andrew D’Agostini, the Royals took a 1-0 series lead in Game One on April 13 at Santander Arena in Reading.
In Game Two in Reading, Tim Billingsley tied the game late in the third period and Jordan Henry found the back of the net with a long point shot at the 14:47 mark of overtime to lift the Beast to an exciting 2-1 OT win, tying the series at 1-1.
Back in Brampton for Game Three, Chris Auger and David Vallorani scored early in the first period and goaltender Zach Fucale turned in a strong 25-save performance as the Beast edged the Royals 2-1 to take a 2-1 series lead.
Two nights later, the teams were back in action at the Powerade Centre for Game Four, Reading’s Ryan Penny scored the go-ahead goal with just over five minutes remaining in the third period as the Royals held on to defeat Brampton 3-2, evening the series at two games apiece.
In the final game in Brampton, Brandon MacLean scored a pair of goals, including a heroic tally in double overtime, giving Brampton a crucial 2-1 victory in Game Five at the Powerade Centre.
The Beast would not squander their opportunity to clinch the series in Game Six as Luke Pither tied the game early in the third period before captain Brandon Marino sealed the deal with the go-ahead goal with just over six minutes remaining and an empty-net dagger in the final minute of play, giving the Beast the series victory with a 3-1 win.
Manchester, on the other hand, won the first two games of their series at home against the Adirondack Thunder and hung on to take the series four games to one.
The Thunder took home a 3-1 victory in Game Three in Adirondack to close the series gap to 2-1.
Manchester and Adirondack traded 2-1 victories in Games Four and Five, setting up a massive Game Six matchup in Adirondack. With the Thunder enjoying a 4-3 lead heading into the third period, Tyler Sikura tied the game just 26 seconds into the period and Zach Lynch gave Manchester a lead at the 10:04 mark.
Adirondack sent the hometown crowd into a frenzy with a game-tying goal from Patch Alber with less than three minutes remaining in regulation time, setting up a wild overtime finish.
Just 2:57 into the extra period, Cory Ward beat Adirondack goaltender J.P. Anderson on a shot from a bad angle, giving the Monarchs the 6-5 victory and a six-game series win over the Thunder to set up their North Division Final matchup against the Beast.
ROUND ONE DIFFERENCE MAKERS
BRAMPTON: Defenseman Jordan Henry led the Beast in scoring through the first round, scoring two goals and adding five assists for seven points in six games played. He scored the first playoff overtime goal in franchise history in Game Two against Reading to give the Beast their first ever victory in the Kelly Cup Playoffs in Game Two on April. 15. He is now tied for third in ECHL playoff scoring for defensemen.
Beast goaltender Zach Fucale emerged as the top goaltender in the Kelly Cup Playoffs after Round One. He posted a 4-1 record and leads all playoff goaltenders with a 1.25 goals against average and a .959 save percentage.
Veteran forwards Brandon MacLean and Brandon Marino were both instrumental in the final two games of the series to help the team lock down big victories in the series. In Game Five, MacLean scored two goals, including the double overtime winner, in a 2-1 victory. Marino responded with a two-goal game of his own in Game Six to help lift the Beast to the series victory.
MANCHESTER: The Monarchs’ regular season point leader Matt Leitner picked up where he left off when he started the postseason, as he tied for the team lead in scoring during the first round, putting up seven points (3G, 4A) alongside Quentin Shore (2G, 5A).
Goaltender Sam Brittain played all six games between the pipes for Manchester during the opening round of the playoffs and enters the North Division Final with a 4-2 record to accompany his strong 2.34 goals against average and a .921 save percentage.