BRAMPTON, ONTARIO – Just as the clock ticked over to midnight, Brampton Beast forward Brandon MacLean pounced on a rebound to the left of the Reading Royals’ goal at the 15:34 mark of double overtime and roofed home the game-winning goal, sending the Powerade Centre crowd into a frenzy as the Beast outlasted the Royals 2-1 to grab a 3-2 series lead.
MacLean turned in a mammoth performance scoring both Beast goals and goaltender Zach Fucale was almost unbeatable, finishing the game with a 43-save victory.
Through the first twenty minutes, both teams traded chances on the power play but both Fucale and his Reading counterpart, Mark Dekanich, kept the game scoreless through 20 minutes of play with the Beast holding a 12-9 edge on the shot clock.
The story remained the same through 40 minutes of play as both goaltenders were nothing short of outstanding, with Fucale stopping all 20 shots he faced, while Dekanich was the busier of the two keepers with 22 stops through two periods.
The relentless Beast attack broke through early in the third period as Brampton claimed a monumental lead. David Ling slowed the pace beautifully with great puck possession in the left wing corner and spotted MacLean waiting for the puck at the opposite faceoff dot. Ling found MacLean with a perfect pass and he ripped home his second goal of the playoffs at 8:55.
The lead didn’t last long as Olivier Labelle potted a goal on Fucale after grabbing a rebound in front of the net at 10:52, drawing the game even and setting up the second overtime game of the North Division Semifinal.
It was the Royals who came out flying in the overtime and outshot the Beast 11-6 but once again, the goaltenders stole the show and kept the Powerade Centre crowd on edge with big save after big save, forcing the game to double overtime for the first time in Beast history.
Just as it seemed the stalemate would never end and a possible triple overtime was looming, Luc-Olivier Blain fired a hard shot on goal from the slot that generated a juicy rebound on the left wing side. MacLean wasted no time jumping on the loose puck and roofed home his second of the night as the Powerade Centre erupted in jubilation. Lucas Venuto earned the second assist on the overtime winner, which sends the Beast back to Reading with a chance to close out the series on Monday night at Santander Arena.
Notes: Molson Three Stars: 3) Willie Corrin (BRM) 2) Zachary Fucale (BRM) 1) Brandon MacLean (BRM). Brampton finished the game 0-for-9 on the man advantage and a perfect 5-for-5 on the penalty kill. The Beast will look to finish off the Royals in Game Six on Monday night in Reading, Pennsylvania. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00PM.
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