BRAMPTON, ON – The Beast returned home for their first game in Brampton since December 17 when they beat the Atlanta Gladiators 3-1. Hopefully, this return home would help them break their current four-game losing streak after going 2-5-0 on their seven-game road-trip over the holidays.
Before the game started, the organization had a small tribute to Beast friend Johnny Bower, who passed away on December 26, 2017. As this was the first home game since then, this was their first chance to honor him. Bower often came to the Beast Remembrance Day games to both celebrate his birthday, sign autographs for the many fans that came to meet him, and lend his support to the Beast organization; both behind the scenes and in the community. Bower’s friend Rick dropped the puck in his name to get things going.
The Beast started well enough, getting the bulk of the shots early (8-1 in the first seven minutes), but those shots did not translate into goals. The Beast got into penalty trouble partway through the first, which lead to the Thunder’s first goal shortly after the penalty kill ended. Pierre-Luc Mercier slammed the rebound past Andrew D’Agostini to get the first goal of the game. A few minutes later, Luc-Olivier Blain got his second goal in three games as he shoved Brandon MacLean’s rebound past Mackenzie Blackwood to tie the game back at one. While the Beast ended up on the power play late in the first period, they were not able to get a shot on net and the period ended in a tie.
The Beast started the second period on a short power play, but were still not able to get any shots on Blackwood. At just over a minute into the period, David Ling received a slashing call, which would be the first of four called against the Beast in the second period. While the Thunder managed to get some shots on net, D’Agostini was the best penalty killer in the period, stopping everything that came his way while the Beast were short-handed. A goal by Paul Rodrigues would come about a minute after Ling’s penalty expired as he put in a nice pass from Shane Conacher on the wing.
Due to the many penalties, the Beast only managed to get eight shots on Blackwood in the second period, while the Thunder put 17 at D’Agostini, with only the one going in. A scary moment came Conor Riley and Reggie Traccitto collided in the neutral zone. Riley also ended up bouncing off Matt Petgrave on the way down and Riley went down hard. After getting some medical attention, Riley was taken off the ice and did not return to the game. A fair bit of blood had to be cleaned off the ice before play could continue.
The Beast started the third period with a penalty kill due to Brandon Marino’s unsportsmanlike penalty called with seven seconds left in the second. Again, the penalty kill was executed very well, and the Beast got a couple of power play chances as the Thunder got called for some blatant offenses. With almost nine minutes gone in the third period old-timer Ling, back in his first game this season, won a race for the puck behind the Thunder net and passed it to Chris Leveille in the slot, who fired it past Blackwood to tie the game at two.
The tie was not to last as Marino got called for tripping with six minutes left and Brian Ward tipped in the game-winning goal on that power play. Two minutes later, Mercier made sure of the win as he put in his own rebound as he was tripped going to the net. The Beast just did not get enough shots off, only getting four on net in the last 10 minutes of the game.
This loss takes the Beast down to three games below .500 and extends their current losing streak to five games. While the fans were glad to see Ling back, his presence was not enough to stop the bleeding. Three of the best players on the ice for the Beast were all vets: Alex Foster, Ling, and Marino. The Beast netminder D’Agostini also deserves credit as he has played an excellent 3-in-3, but just did not get enough help from the offense or the defense to get a win.
Score: Thunder 4 – Beast 2
Shots: Thunder 35 – Beast 30
Penalties: Thunder 4 – Beast 6
Thunder goals scored by Mercier (2), Rodrigues (1) and Ward (1). Assists from Mathieu Brodeur (1), Conacher (1), James Henry (2), Riley (1), Rodrigues (1) and Blake Thompson (1).
Beast goals scored by Blain (1) and Leveille (1). Assists from Willie Corrin (1), Ling (1), MacLean (1) and Traccitto (1).
Brampton will host Fort Wayne & Adirondack next weekend before taking five days off for the All-Star Break.