The Brampton Beast have been the ECHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens since 2015, and have qualified for the first time for the playoffs since entering the league that same year.
Here’s a quick primer if you haven’t followed the Beast, but want to jump on the playoff bandwagon.
Here is the bare minimum you need to know:
Division Semifinal: Brampton Beast vs. Reading Royals
- Game 1 – Thursday, April 13th, 7 p.m. EST at Reading
- Game 2 – Saturday, April 15th, 7 p.m. EST at Reading
- Game 3 – Tuesday, April 18th, 7:15 p.m. EST at Brampton
- Game 4 – Thursday, April 20th, 7:15 p.m. EST at Brampton
- Game 5 (If Necessary) – Saturday, April 22th, 8 p.m. EST at Brampton
- Game 6 (If Necessary) – Monday, April 24th, 7 p.m. EST at Reading
- Game 7 (If Necessary) – Tuesday, April 25th, 7 p.m. EST at Reading
Where to watch: http://www.echl.tv
Habs ECHL affiliates have Kelly Cup success
The last Canadiens affiliate to qualify for the playoffs were the Wheeling Nailers in 2012. However, you don’t have to look much further to the last Canadiens ECHL affiliate to actually win the Kelly Cup, who were the Cincinnati Cyclones in 2008 and 2010.
In 2008, the team was lead by a rookie David Desharnais - the Canadiens most successful ECHL graduate ever - and goaltender Cedrick Desjardins. In 2010, it was goaltender Robert Mayer who lead the team to championship victory.
The Canadiens have primarily used the ECHL over the years to help develop their goaltending depth. Desjardins, Mayer, Jaroslav Halak, and Michael Condon all rose through the ranks via the ECHL and AHL before making their NHL debuts. For the Beast this season, it’s Zachary Fucale who has been called to backstop the team.
It was important for Fucale to take a step back this season after struggling during his rookie campaign in the AHL the season prior. Fucale came up huge for the Beast on several occasions but still showed signs of inconsistent goaltending, similar to what plagued him last season with the IceCaps.
Beast of a Season
It’s no exaggeration to say that this has been the best season for the Beast franchise in the three seasons since arriving in the ECHL. During their first season in the league, they only managed 49 points in 72 games (0.340 PCT), the following season saw a slight increase to 57 points (0.396 PCT). This season they reached 88 points (0.611 PCT). A dramatic improvement that is best seen as a visual to show what an incredible season it’s been for the Beast.
Who is to praise for this success?
Success started right at the top of the organization in the off-season when President and General Manager Cary Kaplan went looking far and wide and signed some key free agents to supplement last season’s core.
From Europe, he repatriated back to North American David Vallorani and Brandon MacLean; from the ECHL he signed free agent David Pacan; and from last year’s team he re-signed Brandon Marino, Luke Pither, and Jordan Henry. In addition, he added veteran David Ling mid-season to replace Mike Vernace, who left for Europe partway through the campaign.
Vallorani (32 goals, 51 assists, 83 points) and Pacan (41 goals, 41 assists, 82 points) ended up being the primary contributors to the offence, and ranked fifth and sixth overall in ECHL scoring. They each had six game winning goals to go along with their furious scoring pace. But they weren’t the only heroes on the team. Pither and Chris Auger also scored six game winning goals each. So between those four players, there were 24 game-winning goals, accounting for over half of their 40 wins.
Links to the Canadiens/IceCaps
Besides Fucale, there are a few links to the Canadiens on the Beast roster. Connor Crisp and Dalton Thrower are two Canadiens draft picks who are playing out the final year of their NHL entry-level contracts. Both have dealt with severe injury issues over the last several seasons, which stunted their development as a result.
In addition, Mathieu Gagnon is signed to an AHL contract to play with the St. John’s IceCaps when needed, while Reggie Traccitto, Tim Billingsley, and Brandon MacLean each joined the IceCaps on Professional Tryout Contracts this season when depth became an issue.
- Connor Crisp - David Pacan - Brandon Marino
- David Vallorani - Chris Leveille - Luke Pither
- Brandon MacLean - Luc-Olivier Blain - Chris Auger
- David Ling
- Willie Corrin - Jordan Henry
- Reggie Traccitto - Dalton Thrower
- Mathieu Gagnon - Tom Billingsley
- Zachary Fucale
- Andrew D’Agostini
Scratches: Lucas Venuto, F; Corey Durocher, F;
Reserve List: Matt Petgrave, D; Daultan Leveille, F; Mike Folkes, D
Notes: In the ECHL, games are played with only 16 skaters, usually broken down as 10 forwards and 6 defencemen.
Listen to Andrew weekly on TSN 690 Radio Sundays at 8:05am on Habs Breakfast, part of Weekend Game Plan.