BRAMPTON, ON – The Brampton Beast came out decked in their Lucas Films-approved Star Wars jerseys looking to wield the power of the Force Friday night, but with the emperor (and former coach) looking on, the Beast were unable to contain the dark side of the force and take down the Rapid City Rush. Despite putting together an excellent 40 minutes of hockey, the comeback bid ultimately came up short as the Beast fell by a final score of 6-3 on Star Wars Episode II: Return of the Beast Night at the Powerade Centre.
Dean Willmott led the way for the home team with his first professional goal and first in a Beast uniform. Brandon Devlin added his second goal in as many games since turning pro while Bobby Hughes extended his points streak to five games with his third period marker. Parker Van Buskirk made 12 saves in a game that saw two different Beast teams: one in the first period and one in the final two frames.
The night began with an illuminating twist to the Beast’s trademark laser show. With the help of some of minor hockey players wielding light sabers, the laser show was turned into a light sabre show, which was intertwined with Star Wars themed music added to the sound track through out the night. The 501st Canadian Garrison and their legion of stormtroopers was on hand to do security and be a part of the ceremonial puck drop.
The opening minutes of the first frame saw back and forth action, with both teams laying out hard hits and getting multiple scoring chances. Just over five minutes into the game, the Rush went to work. Kale Kerbashian continued his strong play against the Beast, ripping a shot off the post and in to beat Ryan DeMelo. Forty-six seconds later, Winston Day Chief took a pass at the Beast blue line, walked in a wired a shot bar down that chased DeMelo from the goal.
After six minutes of competitive hockey, the Rush continued their onslaught against the Alliance, as Mathieu Brisebois fired a one-timer past a screened Van Buskirk for a 3-0 lead on the powerplay. Rapid City potted another goal just 43 seconds later off the stick of Daniel Barczuk, while Kevin Harvey scored his 12th of the year for a 5-0 Rush lead in the final minute of the period.
The second frame was the complete opposite, and a dominant one for the Beast. Neither team fired a shot on goal until over five minutes into the period, but after the Beast got their first, they didn’t look back. Jeff Brown dropped the mitts with ECHL heavyweight Harvey and it proved to be the spark the Beast needed. Just under nine minutes into the frame, Jason Pitton threw a no-look pass to Dean Willmott at the blue line. Willmott walked to the top of the circle and blasted a slap shot off the post and in for his first professional goal. Towards the end of the frame, the Beast power play also went to work on a 4-on-3. The players worked the puck around the zone, when Justin Donati found Brandon Devlin standing in the high slot. Devlin received the puck and fired a booming slap shot along the ice for his second goal in two nights, reducing the Beast deficit to three heading into the dressing room.
The third period was back and forth with barely any whistles. The Beast brought the play to the Rush through out the frame, but were unable to capitalize early on. With about four minutes left in the third, the Rush broke into the Beast zone and fired a shot on goal. Van Buskirk made the initial save but the puck went skyward, forcing him to turn mid-air and grab the puck with his glove, doing a 360 in the process, and boosting his team in the process. Minutes after, Bobby Hughes skated down the ice on his off wing. He stopped at the top of the circle, wound up, and fired a shot short side that beat Battochio to cut the lead to 5-3. A huge scramble in front with second remaining led to Mathew Maione ringing one off the iron and the Rush adding an empty netter to seal the 6-3 victory.
The Beast get set for their fourth last home game of the season this Sunday as the ice princesses Elsa and Anna themselves descend upon the Powerade Centre for a Frozen Musical and meet-and-greet to take place before the Beast game beginning at 12:00 pm. For more information or tickets please visit www.bramptonbeast.com or call 905 564 1684.
About the ECHL
Began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states, the ECHL has grown into a coast-to-coast league with 28 teams in 21 states and one Canadian province for its 27th season in 2014-15. There have been 541 players who have gone on to play in the National Hockey League after starting their careers in the ECHL, including 29 who made their NHL debuts in the 2013-14 season. The ECHL has affiliations with 28 of the 30 NHL teams in 2014-15, marking the 18th consecutive season that the league had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. Further information on the ECHL is available on its website at ECHL.com as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
About the Brampton Beast
The Brampton Beast was founded in January 2013. The Brampton Beast finished in sixth place and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in their inaugural year. The team was recognized as the he Community Relations Franchise of the Year in their first year of operation.