Toronto and Montreal’s ECHL affiliate’s did battle on Thursday evening – the first of a three game set in a four day span.
Though competing in different divisions, both team’s are in desperate need of points to add their respective causes in securing a playoff spot.
Despite out-shooting their hosts 21-10 in the opening period, Orlando found themselves trailing after twenty minutes.
The Solar Bears wasted two early power play opportunities and had to be reliant on Ryan Massa between times – the young goaltender denying Jordan Henry, Brandon Marino, Guillaume Asselin and Brandon Maclean.
The deadlock was broken just before the midway point, seconds after Justin Buzzeo contrived to fire wide on a breakaway attempt. Brampton promptly went back up the ice and scored thanks to David Vallorani’s 28th of the season.
The Solar Bears wasted a 3-on-1 break at the resumption of play and promptly found themselves down by two on their first penalty kill of the game. Connor Crisp just slipping the puck past Massa, who so nearly made another great stop in tight.
The chances kept coming for Orlando but they couldn’t connect on the final pass or shot – even during a four minute power play. The post was struck and Zach Fucale was in excellent form between the pipes as he kept the visitors off the board.
Brampton’s goaltender was eventually beaten inside the last three minutes of the period.
Buzzeo making a heads up play from the left point, finding Denver Manderson in front of net alone and he made no mistake with a one time finish.
Eric Faille should really have tied up proceedings on two separate occasions before the intermission but it wouldn’t take too long for the Solar Bears to draw level.
Less than five minutes into the middle frame, Brenden Miller rifled home on the power play after several previous attempts had been blocked by Brampton’s excellent PK unit.
The home team pushed back immediately and drew a penalty. David Ling so nearly put the Beast ahead but his effort found the iron and the hosts were fortunate not to allow a short-handed goal after a turnover presented Tony Cameranesi with the puck in the slot.
In what was generally a more evenly contested period, Brampton would establish their advantage with four minutes remaining. A broken play fell kindly for Marino, and the Brampton forward was able to beat Massa on this occasion, with an adept top shelf finish.
The road team came out with some intensity to begin the final frame, though almost found themselves behind by a pair three minutes in. Massa with yet another great save – throwing himself across the crease to deny Crisp finishing on a backdoor play.
The game would ultimately be turned on it’s head with two goals in 2:27.
Eric Faille drove into the Brampton zone with speed after an outlet pass from Eric Baier.
Splitting two defensemen, Faille was in on goal and faked to go around the net before sliding the puck back across Fucale and into the bottom corner of the net.
Orlando did an excellent job of getting traffic in front of Fucale all game long and it paid dividends by providing the game winner. A speculative long range shot from Daniel Maggio was tipped home by Joe Perry – his 32nd of the season.
As hard as Brampton tried for a tying goal, Orlando kept the home team to the outside for the most part and Massa was there for his team when required. If you required evidence of how much the points meant to the visitors, it was evident in the intensity that they scraped for every loose puck all over the ice.
One last throw of the dice by Brampton saw Fucale pulled with two minutes remaining but still they could not break down the stubborn Solar Bears defense.
A mix-up at the red line would eventually seal the Beast’s fate.
Eric Faille picked up possession and slid the puck in the yawning cage to clinch a vital two points for Orlando.
Post Game Notes:
Brampton Beast remain top of the North Division by a single defeat, after what was essentially their game in hand on those below them in the standings.
Orlando Solar Bears hoisted themselves back into fourth place in the South Division and trail Cincinnati and Greenville by one and two points respectively.
Orlando were previously 4-18-1-2 when trailing after two periods, so this was a huge comeback victory for them.
An often feisty and highly physical game produced eleven power play opportunities.
Brampton were 1-4 with the extra man and Orlando 1-7.
Just a second win in eight road games for the Solar Bears. They are 2-2-0-0 during their current road trip.
When asked about recent bad results Drake Berehowsky had the following to say “We’re working hard and trying to play our way out of a slump. We may not have won all the games, but we were always in those games and giving ourselves a chance to win. Sometimes you just go through those lulls in a season.”
Denver Manderson recorded the 78th assist in his Solar Bears career, passing Jacob Cepis for the franchise lead.
Eric Faille was the standout player with three points and he becomes Orlando’s outright leading scorer.
Faille noted post game, that the Marlies management were happy with his play in Toronto but opportunities were limited and wanted him to get back some confidence with the Solar Bears.
He’s certainly done that, as 62 points is a career seasonal high for Faille.
Tony Cameranesi caused havoc at times with his speed, creating the best of his chances to score through hounding Brampton in their own zone.
Jon Jutzi and Ty Stanton were both solid contributors on defense. Nothing particularly flashy but reliable troops for Drake Berehowsky.
Daniel Maggio played a strong, physical game as is his way. His shot from the blue line contributed to the game winner.
Ryan Massa played for the Marlies last season and attended Leafs camp this past summer.
He was excellent in making 32 saves for the victory and commented on how the extra workload has allowed him to get into a groove of late.
Mason Marchment saw plenty of the puck but was guilty of being a little greedy in possession at times.
Shane Conacher was the lone disappointment. He hit the ground running after a long layoff for injury – even getting some time with the Marlies as a result. Just a point in his last five games after nine in previous twelve.
Brenden Miller scored on his Marlies debut in February and netted once tonight. He led all skaters with seven shots.
Chase Witala was scratched.