BRAMPTON, ONTARIO — David Pacan delivered his finest performance as a Brampton Beast yet on Thursday afternoon as he scored a natural hat trick to power his team to 5-2 win over the Adirondack Thunder at the Powerade Centre
The first-year Beast sniper was at his most dangerous in a middle period where he lit the lamp twice to excite the over 5,000 Peel Region students in attendance for this school day matchup. He now has six goals in his last four games, and his 17 total tallies ranks him second in the ECHL.
Brandon MacLean and Tim Billingsley scored the other goal for the Beast, and Chris Leveille notched two assists, to lead Brampton (13-7-1-2) to a franchise-best five-game winning streak. The Beast only trails the Thunder (13-5-2-3) by two points in the North Division standings, and will potentially have a chance to climb into a tie for second place when the two teams meet again in Brampton tomorrow night.
Beast netminder Zachary Fucale made 33 saves on 35 shots en route to earning his sixth straight win. He has not lost a hockey game since November 24.
After withstanding an early first-period push by the Thunder to start the game, the Beast found their legs and began to turn up the heat in the attacking zone.
Pacan capitalized on this momentum by scoring the opening goal for Brampton at 9:54. He stole the puck from an Adirondack Thunder defenceman to give him room for a rush off the right wing. Pacan’s first wrist shot was denied by Thunder goaltender Mason McDonald, but he picked up the rebound and propelled the rubber disk into the gaping cage.
Brampton continued to sustain this pressure for the rest of the opening frame. The Beast led the Thunder 12-10 on the shot clock after 20 minutes of action.
The Beast reprised their strong offensive assault to begin the middle stage of the game. Pacan potted his second goal just 3:41 into the period by hammering a wrist shot past the left arm of McDonald after accepting Brandon Marino’s gorgeous cross-ice pass on an odd-man rush.
Just over four minutes later, at 7:58, Pacan lit the lamp again by burying a rebound off of his own redirection of a Jordan Henry wrist shot from the blueline.
Speaking of redirections, MacLean expanded the Beast’s lead to 4-0 at 11:33 by perfectly deflecting Mike Vernace’s point shot into the Thunder net.
McDonald was pulled out of the game after allowing this tally. He ended his afternoon with four goals allowed on 18 shots. Veteran ECHL netminder J.P Anderson came off the bench to make his goaltending debut for Adirondack.
The Adirondack skaters did respond to this goaltending change by playing a more purposeful brand of hockey. This additional effort paid off for the Thunder as they scored two late tallies to close out the second period: Dennis Kravchenko got his team on the board at 14:13, and Greg Wolfe cut his team’s deficit to two goals with a marker with three seconds remaining in the period.
Adirondack outshot Brampton 15-14 during the second period.
There would be no dramatic comeback in the final frame for Adirondack, thanks to 10 saves from Fucale, and some stout physical and stick plays by the Brampton defenseman.
Billingsley put the nail in the Thunder’s coffin by propelling a perfectly placed blueline wrist shot past a screened Anderson at 17:40 for a power-play goal to make the score 5-2.
Anderson stopped 13 of 14 shots in over 29 minutes of action. Brampton directed a total of 32 shots on the Adirondack net.
Round two of this three-game series between Adirondack and Brampton will begin at 7:15 p.m. tomorrow night.
Notes: The Beast went 1-for-2 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill. The Beast have a 6-1 record heading into the final game of their eight-game homestand. This is Brampton’s second victory by three or more goals of the season. Fucale has recorded a 2.19 GAA and a .934 save percentage over his past five games.
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