The Newfoundland Growlers had the ingredients for a classic playoff recipe — a big crowd, contributions from their best offensive players and top-notch goaltending — and they made the most of them in cooking up a 2-1 win over the Brampton Beast Friday night in the first-ever ECHL Kelly Cup game played at Mile One Centre.
First star Michael Garteig made 32 saves, including a stop on a second period penalty shot, while Scott Pooley and Zach O’Brien produced goals for the Growlers in the game played before a full house of over 6,300.
Chris Martenet had the lone tally for the Beast, who will look to even the series in Game 2 Saturday night (7 p.m.) at Mile One.
Those looking for a turning point would have an easy time identifying Friday’s, although it was actually not so much as a point, but a one-minute stretch in the middle frame. It began at the eight-minute mark when Brampton’s Artur Tianulin was awarded a penalty shot after it was deemed he had been slashed on a breakaway. But Garteig denied Tianulin and what would have been the game’s opening goal.
Just 58 seconds later, rookie forward Pooley, who led Newfoundland with 31 goals in the regular season, made himself the answer to a trivia question, taking a nifty feed from veteran defenceman Adam Pardy and getting the Growlers’ first-ever post-season tally to break the scoreless deadlock.
O’Brien, Newfoundland’s leading scorer, delivered what would prove to be the winning goal less than five minutes later.
Martenet brought Brampton back to within one when he scored early in the third, but Garteig and his teammates shut down the visitors the rest of the way, including the last 100 seconds of the game, when the Beast had netminder Etienne Marcoux on the bench for an extra attacker.
Garteig now has dealt with three regulation-time penalty shots this season and has stopped all of them … Marcoux faced 28 shots in the Brampton goal … Each team went zero-for-three on the power play. All three of Brampton’s man-advantage opportunities were in the opening period, one of them coming on a rare penalty call against the Growlers’ O’Brien … Earlier Friday, the ECHL announced veteran forward Jesse Schultz of the Cincinnati Cyclones as the league’s MVP for 2018-19. O’Brien finished fourth in the voting by coaches, broadcasters, media relations directors and members of the media … Game 1's three stars: 1. Garteig, 2. O’Brien, 3. Marcoux …