INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - Luke Pither and David Pacan both played the role of Christmas hero on Thursday night for the Brampton Beast.
Pither notched his first ever ECHL hat trick, and Pacan scored the decisive goal with only three seconds remaining in regulation time to secure the Beast a thrilling 5-4 road win over the Indy Fuel.
As a result of his three-goal performance, Pither now has seven goals and 10 assists for 17 points in his last nine games.
Chris Auger scored the other goal while David Vallorani and Brandon MacLean registered a three-assist and two-assist night respectively for the Beast (16-8-1-2), who have now won nine of their past 11 games.
Period one of this contest was an homage to Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer as the Beast and Fuel combined to light the red goal lamp five times.
Pither kicked off this goal scoring festival at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum, just 7:52 into the opening frame, by finishing a gorgeous individual rush up the ice with a rocket of a wrist blast that picked the top left corner of the net. This marker is Pither's second power-play tally of the season.
Auger expanded the Brampton lead to two goals at 14:11, with a snap shot from the right faceoff circle that trickled through the paraphernalia of Fuel netminder Jake Hildebrand.
Brampton struck just 30 seconds later, at 14:41, to make the game 3-0. Pither potted his second tally of the period by pumping the puck into the net with a forehand shot from the deep slot.
Fuel forward Alex Guptill got his team off the mat with a goal just six seconds after Pither's tally by shoveling the puck past Beast goaltender Bryan Pitton from point-blank range.
Guptill found the back of the net again at 17:09 with a shot from the left faceoff circle to cut the Beast's lead to 3-2 heading into the first intermission.
It was the Beast who enjoyed an enormous edge in territorial play during the first period as they outshot the Fuel 16-4.
A case can be made that the Beast and Fuel skaters paid tribute to Santa's other reindeer in period two as they dashed, pranced, danced up and down the ice on their way to combining for 29 total shots on net.
Tristan King of the Fuel delivered the first goal of this fast-paced middle frame by tipping the puck past Pitton at 2:14 to complete his team's comeback from a three-goal deficit.
Pitton was replaced in net by Andrew D'Agostini after allowing this goal. He stopped four of seven shots in over 22 minutes of action.
Pither punched back for the Beast with his hat trick goal at the 3:24 mark, a mere 70 seconds after King's equalizing tally. The Beast forward staked his team to a 4-3 lead by directing a sharp angle shot from the half wall that managed to sneak through the Hildebrand's goalie pads.
Ryan Keller responded for the Fuel with 3:19 remaining in the period by solving D'Agostini with a wrist drive from the slot to tie the game at four goals apiece heading into the second intermission.
The Beast pumped 19 shots on net during the middle frame while the Fuel managed 10 on-target attempts.
Indy stepped up its game to make the final period a much more even affair. D'Agostini and Hildebrand were forced to make multiple massive saves as both teams prodded tenaciously for the go-ahead goal.
Ultimately, it was D'Agostini who did a better job evoking the stingy essence of Ebenezer Scrooge by turning aside all 12 shots he faced. He made a total of 18 saves on this night.
Hildebrand came close to matching his counterpart, but a juicy rebound off of a Jordan Henry shot proved costly as Pacan rifled it into the net for his 19th goal of the year.
The Beast delivered their most dominant shot-clock showing of the season as they pumped an incredible 46 shots on net while the Fuel managed 26.
Brampton has an opportunity to attain its second four-game winning streak in as many weeks when they take on the Fort Wayne Komets on Friday night starting at 8 p.m.
Notes: The Beast were 1-for-2 on the power play. Brampton did not get called for a penalty in this game. This was Brampton's second infraction-free game of the season. Pacan's 19 goals are second most in the ECHL. Vallorani's 36 points is good enough for fourth in the league scoring race.
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