BRAMPTON, Ont. – The Brampton Beast opened their final three games of the season Friday looking to play spoiler. Enter the Wheeling Nailers, who needed two big points to keep pace with the Worcester Railers.
Freddie Tiffels opened the game on an early breakaway just 17 seconds into the game. Chris Driedger made the save and sent the crowd roaring their approvals. The Beast got a few chances of their own before Tiffels would get his second chance on Driedger and score the opening goal just over three minutes into the game. The Beast went almost five minutes without a shot on net, and two minutes of that was on a power play. It seemed that the Nailers had this game going exactly where they needed it to go.
When the Beast got into some penalty trouble in the first, the Nailers handled it well at first. When Willie Corrin was penalized the Nailers controlled the play in the Beast end and got some shots on net. When Tyson Wilson put the Beast right back on the penalty kill, that is when the Beast stepped it up a notch. Brandon MacLean started with the forecheck to get a couple of chances on net and put the Nailers off their game. Then Brandon Marino’s line took it back to the Nailers end, where Marino buried the rebound to tie the game on a shorthanded opportunity.
As the game moved into a more familiar pace, the shots settled down and both teams tried to find a way to get the next goal. With less than four minutes left in the first period, Wilson got a second holding penalty and went back to the box. This time, the Nailers pressed hard to keep the action in the Brampton until MacLean intercepted the play and dumped it high and long to the other end and scored. It appeared that MacLean caught Adam Morrison unaware and got the goal as Morrison fumbled the shot into the net. This was then the second goal by the Beast on penalty kills with Wilson in the box for holding. The first period ended with the Beast up 2-1.
The Beast kept the pedal down in the second, when a scoring opportunity presented itself and Luc-Olivier Blain buried his ninth goal of the season as he was being hit to the ice by a defender. The Beast were suddenly up 3-1 with almost two full periods of hockey to go.
The Nailers responded harshly getting the next 12 shots on net, controlling much of the play.
After both teams got penalties five seconds apart, the Nailers took over on the resulting 4-on-4. Reid Gardiner beat Driedger with a clean shot to make it 3-2. Play continued with both teams down a player for a short time until the Beast got another penalty to make it a 4-on-3. The Beast penalty killers helped Driedger to keep the Nailers down by one.
With the teams back at 5-on-5, the Beast again took over control of the game with a few shots on net. Scott Jacklin ended up scoring off of newcomer Bailey Webster’s rebound. This gave the Beast the 4-2 lead and they were looking like the better team in all the ways that counted. Both teams traded attacks until less than two minutes remained in the second period. It was at that time that both teams got penalties for slashing sending the game back to a 4-on-4 format.
With the Beast deep in their end, the Nailers scored to make it 4-3. While that is how it is written on the score sheet, what actually happened was that Matt Petgrave attempted to pass the puck in front of Driedger and instead ended up scoring an own-goal off if his goalie. That meant both teams got silly goals and the game was back to within a single goal. This is how the second period ended with the Nailers outshooting the Beast 20-8 in the second, but down 4-3 in goals.
With the Beast having gotten twice as many penalties as the Nailers in the first two periods, the Beast knew that had to change the pace of the game. This they did for the entire 20 minutes of the period as they reduced the number of shots by the Nailers, and kept the puck in their possession as much as possible. They also tempered their aggressiveness and only got a single penalty in the period. This proved to be a winning formula as they held off the Nailers from scoring to get the win at home and broke even on the season series with both teams getting three wins.
In the end, the Beast played spoiler to the Nailers. With the loss, the Nailers were eliminated from the playoffs, giving Worcester their first ECHL playoff run in their first ECHL season. This is also the first time the Beast have scored two short-handed goals in a single game this season.
Score: Nailers 3 – Beast 4
Shots: Nailers 44– Beast 26
Penalties: Nailers 4 – Beast 7
Nailers goals scored by Gardiner, Troy Josephs and Tiffels. Assists from Cam Brown (2), Garrett Meurs and Tiffels.
Beast goals scored by Blain, Jacklin, MacLean and Marino. Assists from Blain, Erik Bradford, Corrin, Foster, MacLean, Petgrave, David Vallorani and Webster.
The Beast play Saturday night in Kalamazoo where they can again play spoiler as the Wings are in a tight race for fourth in the Central division.
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