BRAMPTON, ON – With the start of the season coming close, it is time to kick off September with a recap of how the Brampton Beast is shaping up. By this time last year, head coach Colin Chaulk had already signed most of the starting roster. At this point this year, only signed 11 of the season-opening 20 have been signed, meaning more to come.
Signing announcements started this year on July 6, with the announcement that star defenseman Jordan Henry was coming back to Brampton for his third season on the blueline. Henry played 69 of 82 games last year and earned 38 points (17g, 21a) in those games. He also had a team high plus-25 on the season.
The excitement went up a notch on July 11 as the Beast announced Chris Leveille was coming back to play forward. Leveille was one of the fastest players on the team last year, after earning his spot in the free agent tryouts last August. He played a total of 68 games in his first ECHL season, scoring 13 times and ending up with 45 points on the season.
Another speedy signing was announced on July 18 with Mitch Zion continuing to suit up in the black and white. Zion had an injury-plagued rookie season, playing just 15 games and earning just three points (2g, 1a). While playing for Carleton University, he was around the point-per-game mark. There is still more to come from this speedy forward.
Paul Cianfrini was added to the defense on July 20. Cianfrini joins the Beast for his first year after having played for the Toledo Walleye, Wheeling Nailers, Trenton Titans and most recently with the Norfolk Admirals. As a veteran in the ECHL, with 322 regular season games in the ECHL & American Hockey League, Cianfrini has 72 of his 79 career ECHL points coming from assists. Additionally, he brings the experience of 41 post season games to a team light on playoff experience.
On July 26 it was announced that defenseman Tyson Wilson was also going to be joining the Beast this season. Wilson joins the Beast after playing his rookie season with the Tulsa Oilers. While with the Oilers, he played 55 games and managed to get 16 points (3g, 13a) during that time. Most impressively is his time in the NCAA where he registered 79 points (11g, 68a) in 145 games, and a plus-39 rating.
In a third straight announcement, the Beast introduced forward Kevin Dufour on August 1, also new to the team. Dufour is starting his rookie season with the Beast after playing the last four seasons at Bowling Green State University. He finished last season with the South Carolina Stingrays, where he played nine regular season games and one playoff game. During that time, Dufour scored three goals and picked up five assists.
The news fans were waiting for finally came on August 3, when the Beast announced captain Brandon Marino had re-signed with the team. Marino has had a stellar two seasons in Brampton (he spent almost half of the 2015-16 season in the AHL with the Utica Comets,) playing in 112 regular season games, compiling a team record 113 points (33g, 80a). His 80 assists is also a team record.
A week later, the signing of playoff hero Brandon MacLean was announced. MacLean played 61 games in Brampton and was called up to the team’s AHL affiliate St. John’s IceCaps, where he played in two games. While in Brampton, his 55 points (22g, 33a) was impressive, but not as impressive as his play in the Kelly Cup playoffs. There, he led the team with four playoff goals, scoring two of them in game five of the first round series versus the Reading Royals. His first goal that game started the scoring in the third period, while his second goal came the next day at 15:34 of the second overtime.
On August 17, the Beast announced the return of Mike Folkes to the Brampton blueline. Folkes played 58 games in his rookie season with the Beast, mostly on the third defensive pair. While Folkes is not known for getting goals or assists, he does keep himself out of the penalty box, only having accumulated 34 PIM last season. As the 2016-17 season wore on, Folkes was being called on by coach Colin Chaulk to shut down the opposition’s top offensive line.
In a surprise announcement five days later, the Beast welcomed back team rookie of the year Willie Corrin to the defense corps. Corrin had a busy season in 2016-17, starting the year with the Orlando Solar Bears, and earning a call-up to the Toronto Marlies for several AHL games. He was loaned to Brampton, where he played 40 regular season games, earning 26 points (10g, 16a). Corrin also played all 12 playoff games, where he added four assists.
Most recently, the Beast welcomed back Reggie Traccitto to the defense for his third year on the team. Last season Traccitto scored an impressive 26 points (5g, 21a) in 66 games. In the playoffs, Traccitto was second only to Henry in points among defensemen with six (2g, 4a). Traccitto will be looking to improve on last season, which was his best career season so far.
Last year, the Beast improved from 27th place in 2015-16 with 57 points to ninth place in 2016-17 with 88 points, making the second round of the playoffs. This team is shaping up to look to equal or exceed last year’s performance.
Still missing are both goalies and more forwards, some of whom will be coming from AHL Laval or the team’s free agent camp later this month. In other words, more to come!
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