READING, PENNSYLVANIA – Brampton Beast captain Brandon Marino took the team on his back in the third period at Santander Arena in Reading on Monday night in Game Six, scoring the go-ahead goal with just over six minutes remaining in regulation time and sealing the victory with an empty net dagger, giving the Beast a 3-1 win, and more importantly a 4-2 series win over the Reading Royals.
Luke Pither scored the game-tying goal early in the third period and goaltender Zach Fucale turned in another superlative performance between the pipes, making an eye-popping 40 saves to help guide his team to victory.
The first period was an equally-played affair, but it was Reading who had a slight edge in play, outshooting the Beast 19-13. The hometown Royals struck first late in the opening frame as Justin Crandall found the top corner with a perfectly-placed shot over the glove of Fucale at 16:12.
The Royals continued to press hard to earn a two-goal lead in the second period and again outshot the Beast, this time by a 12-6 margin, but Fucale stood tall, making several gargantuan saves to keep the score close heading into the final period.
It took the Beast a few minutes in the final period to find their legs but they stormed out to tie the game at the 7:21 mark. After swarming Reading starter Mark Dekanich with a flurry of shots, Luke Pither was in the right place at the right time to locate a loose puck back door on Dekanich and tuck in his first goal of the postseason, sucking the energy out of the crowd at Santander Arena.
That energy was growing on the Beast bench and erupted again in the latter half of the final period. The Beast were peppering Dekanich with a barrage of pucks and while the netminder did his best to fight them off, Marino would not be denied as he stuffed in the third rebound after several big chances in front, giving the Beast their first lead of the game with 6:22 left in the game.
The Royals threw everything they had at the Beast goal in the dying minutes but simply could not beat Fucale.
Marino sealed the series victory with an empty-netter from just inside the blue line on the right wing side at 19:45, sending the Reading fans streaming for the exits as the Beast claimed the series victory, four games to two.
NOTES: Molson Three Stars: 3) Mark Dekanich (REA) 2) Brandon Marino (BRM) 1) Zach Fucale (BRM). The series victory is the first in Beast franchise history. Brampton will now await the winner of the other North Division Semifinal between the Manchester Monarchs and the Adirondack Thunder.
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