The Brampton Beast are launching their fourth season in the ECHL on Saturday afternoon, visiting the Adirondack Thunder. The Beast have just completed their training camp that was attended by 38 team hopefuls, whittling down to the roster limit of 21 players for the first 30 days. After the first months, only 20 players can be on the active roster, but there can be an unlimited amount of players on the reserve.
All eyes will be on rookie starter Michael McNiven, who will be making his professional debut. The goaltender impressed significantly during the Laval Rocket’s training camp, and being loaned to the Beast will give McNiven ample opportunity to gain experience through frequent starts.
In addition Jordan Boucher, Yannick Veilleux, and Thomas Ebbing represent the insurance for the Laval Rocket who will be plying their craft with the Beast in the meantime. Boucher and Ebbing are rookies, while Veilleux was a top-six contributor for the Beast before getting called up to the St. John’s IceCaps last season.
Every ECHL team is allowed to carry up to four veteran players on its active roster and reserve. A veteran is defined as having played more than 260 professional hockey games in North American or in Elite European leagues (Czech Extraliga, Finnish Liiga, German DEL, KHL, Slovakian Extraliga, Swedish SHL, and Swiss NLA). Players on two-way AHL/ECHL contracts or NHL contracts with an ECHL provision who are assigned to the ECHL do not count towards this limit.
This season the Beast have filled out their four veteran spots so far with Veilleux, Jordan Henry, Paul Cianfrini, and Brandon Marino.
Brandon Marino is the captain of the Beast, entering his third season with the club, and ninth professional season. A product of Bemidji State University of the NCAA, where he won two divisional championships, he began his pro career in the defunct IHL and CHL, before settling into a steady ECHL career in which he put up 88 points in 2013-14 and 72 points last season. He will be counted on to drive the offence for the Beast this season.
Jordan Henry returns to the Beast for a third season and is part of the leadership core of the team as one of the alternates. A 10-year veteran with 559 professional games under his belt, Henry is a product of the WHL, but was never drafted into the NHL. He’s been described as one of the best defencemen in the ECHL by General Manager Cary Kaplan, and showed why by scoring 17 goals and 38 points with a +24 rating last season while anchoring the defensive corps.
Paul Cianfrini is a newcomer to the Beast, but brings with him 322 professional games of experience across six seasons. Not really a goal-scorer, Cianfrini will be trusted to be primarily solid defensively, and occasionally chip in on the scoresheet.
Brandon MacLean and Luc-Olivier Blain are two returning players who will be expected to provide the team with offence. MacLean had 55 points last season and Blain had notably less, but with the departure of some of the top scorers from last season, they will need to shoulder some more responsibilities.
Interestingly enough, both were captains of rival Ottawa university teams in 2011-12, with MacLean playing for Carleton University, while Blain captained the far-superior University of Ottawa. (note: Personal bias shining through a bit. Go Gees-Gees!).
Another familiar face will be the returning Stefan Fournier, who was previously in the Montreal Canadiens organization, but was traded along with Jarred Tinordi in the deal that brought John Scott and Victor Bartley to the IceCaps.
Fournier will be starting the season at the ECHL level after being fairly established in the AHL for the last several seasons. Should he earn an AHL deal and get called up to the Rocket, he would become the third player to play for the Hamilton Bulldogs, St. John’s IceCaps, and Laval Rocket, following Brett Lernout and Daniel Carr.
Kevin Dufour will be an interesting rookie to follow. He was a top-line scorer for Bowling Green State University in the NCAA, and had a nine-game tryout with South Carolina, putting up seven points. He participated in the Rocket training camp, so a solid start to the season might keep him in sight of the AHL.
Willie Corrin was another Beast player at Laval’s training camp. Last season he was a top-pairing defenceman with Henry for the Beast, so the same should be expected of him this year.
Senators come and go
At one point of the training camp, the Belleville Senators assigned four players to the Beast. With no ECHL affiliate of their own, they chose the only Canadian ECHL team to get their prospects some professional experience.
Ethan Werek, Daniel Ciampini, Cody Donaghey, and Macoy Erkamps all practised with the Beast during their training camp. All but Werek played in the ECHL pre-season games. All four have now been recalled back to the Belleville Senators.
The Ottawa Senators have now loaned goaltender Marcus Hogberg to the Beast, who will carry three goaltenders. It will be interesting to see how starts will be split between McNiven and Hogberg.
The Ottawa Senators are one of the few NHL teams not to have their own ECHL affiliate, and it looks like the Beast will be benefitting from the wealth of two NHL associations.
Here is the complete opening night roster for the 2017-18 Brampton Beast:
- Michael McNiven - on loan from Montreal Canadiens
- Marcus Hogberg - on loan from Ottawa Senators
- Andrew D’Agostini
- Jordan Henry
- Mike Folkes
- Tyson Wilson
- Paul Cianfrini
- Reggie Traccitto
- Willie Corrin
- Matt Petgrave
- Thomas Ebbing - Reassigned from Laval Rocket
- Yannick Veilleux - Reassigned from Laval Rocket
- Brandon MacLean
- Corey Durocher
- Kevin Dufour
- Luc-Olivier Blain
- Brandon Marino
- Chris Leveille
- Nick McParland
- Stefan Fournier
- Jordan Boucher-Gould - Reassigned from Laval Rocket
Reserve: Mark Bennett, F; Mitch Zion, F
Injured Reserve: Ian Harris, F
Familiar names on other season-opening ECHL rosters
- Allen Americans: Dalton Thrower, Mathieu Aubin, Olivier Archambault
- Atlanta Gladiators: Colin Sullivan (reserve)
- Colorado Eagles: Drayson Bowman
- Florida Everblades: Josiah Didier
- Greenville Swamp Rabbits: Jack Nevins
- Jacksonville IceMen: Alexandre Goulet
- Manchester Monarchs: Jonathan Racine
- Norfolk Admirals: Angelo Miceli, Brady Vail
- Toledo Walleye: Connor Crisp
- Wichita Thunder: Mark MacMillan
Listen to Andrew weekly on TSN 690 Radio Sundays at 8:05am on Habs Breakfast, part of Weekend Game Plan.