Brampton stays alive in series with Monarchs, heads home
By JOHN HABIB New Hampshire Union Leader
Monarchs' Ashton Rome attacks Brampton's goalie Zachary Fucale in the first period during game five of the Kelly Cup playoffs at SNHU Arena in Manchester on Wednesday. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)
MANCHESTER — The Monarchs are heading back to Ontario.
Two power-play goals including the game-winner in the third period from Reggie Traccitto lifted the Brampton Beast to a 2-1 win in Game 5 of the ECHL North Division Finals at SNHU Arena Wednesday before 2,333 fans.
Manchester still leads the best-of-seven series, 3-2, but must return to Brampton, Ontario, for Game 6 on Friday. If needed Game 7 will be played in Brampton on Sunday.
Manchester entered Wednesday’s game with the best penalty-killing unit in the playoffs, having killed off 41 of 44 attempts, including 17 of 18 through the first four games against the Beast.
At 8:25 of the third period, Manchester defenseman Craig Wyszomirski went off for cross-checking. On the power play, Brampton worked the puck around the blue line before Traccitto blasted a hard shot that found the back of the net past Manchester goalie Sam Brittain.
Both goalies were exceptional as Brittain turned back 40 shots while Zach Fucale collected 26 saves.
Brampton, which has only scored seven goals in the series, outshot Manchester, 42-27.
Down 2-1, Manchester was on the power play and skated with a 6-on-4 advantage after pulling Brittain with 1”18 to play. Dartmouth College product Tyler Sikura had two shots in the final 30 seconds of regulation, but couldn’t get one of them past Fucale.
“I think we got a little too comfortable tonight,” said Sikura. “We got away from some of the things we were doing well in the first two games here. But they were the desperate team, playing for their playoff lives. We just need to regroup.”
The Beast tallied the first goal of the game on the power play, taking advantage of a hooking penalty on Sikura. Dave Ling, positioned to the far right of the cage, collected the puck as Brittain was down in the crease. The net was wide open on Ling’s side and the forward simply found the netting for his first playoff goal at 9:38.
Manchester failed to score on two power play opportunties in the first period, but Quentin Shore had the best chance in the stanza when he maneuvered past a Brampton defender and broke in free. But his shot in front was blocked by Fucale, who turned back eight shots in the first 20 minutes.
Manchester coach Richard Seeley, praising Brittain, said after the game “they should have had four, five goals in that first period, but he kept giving us a chance to win. We just didn’t come out with the same urgency we had in our previous games in this series.”
Brampton’s energy didn’t wane in the second period. The Beast outshot the Monarchs 21-10 in the period, but couldn’t solve Brittain who stood his ground on many shots from inside the face-off circle.
Brittain kept it a one-goal game six minutes into the frame when, after making the initial save on a 15-foot shot, he momentarily lost sight up of the puck which popped and fell behind him in the crease. As the puck was about to trickle into the goal, Brittain swiped it away with his glove.
It was an important save because Manchester’s offense was struggling, mustering just two shots in the first 10 minutes of the stanza. At that point, the Monarchs only had 10 shots on Fucale halfway through the game.
But Manchester caught a break at 13:44 when Brampton forward Brandon MacLean was whistled for tripping, giving the Monarchs their third power play opportunity.
This time Manchester cashed in, thanks in big part to defenseman David Kolomatis. He possessed the puck in Brampton’s zone and bought some extra time, backing himself to the blue line as his teammates positioned themselves in front of the net.
Kolomatis fired a shot in traffic and the puck was deflected home by Dan Doremus past Fucale for the tying goal at 15:21. Brampton held a 31-18 shot advantage after two periods and found a way to return the series to Canada.
“We’re still in a good spot,” said Sikura. “We’re still leading the series. It would have been nice to close it out here, but we still have two chances to win one more out there.”