Final Regular Season Records:
Reading Royals: 41-25-4-2 (86 pts — 2nd in North Division, 3rd in Eastern Conf)
Brampton Beast: 40-24-3-5 (84 pts — 3rd in North Division, 4th in Eastern Conf)
Series Schedule: (Home Team in BOLD CAPS and all times local):
Game 1 – Thursday, April 13 – Brampton at READING at 7:00 pm ET
Game 2 – Saturday, April 15 – Brampton at READING at 7:00 pm ET
Game 3 – Tuesday, April 18 – Reading at BRAMPTON at 7:15 pm ET
Game 4 – Thursday, April 20 – Reading at BRAMPTON at 7:15 pm ET
*Game 5 – Saturday, April 22 – Reading at BRAMPTON at 8:00 pm ET
*Game 6 – Monday, April 24 – Brampton at READING at 7:00 pm ET
*Game 7 – Tuesday, April 25 – Brampton at READING at 7:00 pm ET
*=> If Necessary
Season Series Recap:
These two teams only met a total of three times during the regular season, with Brampton coming out on top with a record of 2-0-1 in those match-ups. The Beast will make their postseason debut since joining the ECHL, while Reading returns to the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the eighth consecutive season. Reading’s Matt Willows lit up the Beast for eight points in the three games matched by Brampton’s David Pacan with eight points of his own.
How Reading Wins:
Reading packs a lot of firepower, touting five different players (Robbie Czarnik, Willows, Justin Crandall, Olivier Labelle, and Ryan Penny) with over 50 points in the regular season. Scoring depth is a huge part of this team’s game, and they’ll look to take advantage of a Brampton team that is without top netminder Zachary Fucale, who is currently with the St. John’s IceCaps in the AHL. However, will the recent and tumultuous departures of former coach Larry Courville and Team President Drew Bell be too much of a distraction for the Royals to overcome? Reinforcements in the likes of forward Chris McCarthy (who led Reading in scoring before his call-up) and goalie Martin Ouellette will certainly be a boost for the Royals.
How Brampton Wins:
Beast coach Colin Chaulk was a chess master this season, garnering much attention and consideration in the Coach of the Year conversation. Brampton has some punch up front as well with Pacan (tied for the league lead in goals with 41 on the season), David Vallorani (who won a Kelly Cup with Reading), Brandon Marino, and Brandon MacLean combining for 292 points on the season. The stout penalty kill of the Beast (tops in the Eastern Conference) allows Brampton to play an aggressive style of play but there are major concerns on the defensive side of the puck, concerns that were eased by the stellar play of Fucale in the second half of the season. With Fucale in St. John’s, Brampton will have to do whatever they can to slow down Reading’s dangerous top six forwards or their first trip to the Kelly Cup Playoffs could be a short one.
Who wins this series?