Even though they were missing their leading point-getter from last season, the Newfoundland Growlers maintained their early-season scoring pace Saturday as they closed out their homestand at Mile One Centre.
But their defensive performance in the game isn’t something they will want to see continue; the Growlers gave up three unanswered third-period goals as they lost 7-5 to the Brampton Beast.
The seven goals are the most Newfoundland has surrendered in any of its 41 regular-season games to date. They did so on two occasions in 2018-19, their inaugural season, including in a loss to Brampton by the same 7-5 score.
The result closes out a season-staring five-game Mile One stay for Newfoundland, which went 3-2 over the stretch, including a 5-2 win over the Beast on Friday. The 25 goals the Growlers have scored leads the league, but Saturday’s setback bumped up their goals against to 20, or an average of four a game, not the number you would associate with a team that has legitimate aspirations of defending its ECHL championship.
St. John’s native Zach O’Brien was recalled to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies prior to the contest, but Newfoundland’s offence was still clicking for much of Saturday’s game, even without O’Brien, the team’s leading scorer last season and the Kelly Cup playoff MVP.
The Growlers took a 5-4 lead early in the third period when Giorgio Estephan scored his second goal of the game, but Brampton re-tied the score five minutes later on a tally by Francois Beauchemin, his second of the contest, then got the game-winner from Nathan Todd four-and-a-half minutes later. The Beast’s Matt Petgrave closed out the scoring with an empty-netter in the final minute.
Brady Ferguson, Justin Brazeau and Riley Woods had the other goals for the Growlers. David Vallorani, Chris Martenet and Andrew Sturtz rounded out the scoring for Brampton (2-2-0), the ECHL affiliate of the Ottawa Senators.
Newfoundland netminder Patrick Munson gave up six goals on 32 shots.
Alex Dubeau faced 37 shots for his first win with the Beast. However, while he is a rookie, it wasn’t the first pro victory for Dubeau; he had gone 3-2-1 with the ECHL’s Fort Wayne Komets this past spring after finishing his collegiate career with the University of New Brunswick and earning tournament MVP honours in leading the Reds to a USports national title.
For a third straight game, the Growlers had multiple power-play goals — both of Estephan’s tallies came with the man-advantage — but that doesn’t mean the PP didn’t have its problems Saturday; Newfoundland also gave up two shorthanded markers.
Brampton was scoreless in four power-play chances.
The Growlers embark on their first road trip later this week, a five-game trek that opens with back-to-back games against the Maine Mariners in Portland, Me., Friday and Saturday.
While Zach O’Brien was recalled to the Toronto Marlies over the weekend, the Growlers’ AHL affiliate assigned defenceman Alex Gudbranson to Newfoundland on Sunday. Gudbranson, who spent almost all of last season with the ECHL champs, hasn’t played any games this season because of an injury suffered in training camp … Growlers’ rookie forward Colt Conrad maintained his ECHL scoring lead with an assist Saturday. That gives him 11 points on the season, a point ahead of two players, including teammate Giorgio Estephan. Colt Conrad, Giorgio Estephan and Justin Brazeau all have at least one point in each of Newfoundland’s five games this season …