2/6/2014 8:36:00 AM Brampton 2, Sundogs 1 Sundogs succumb to Brampton, halting winning run
Brampton’s Andrew Darrigo (4) glides in between Arizona’s Matt McCready and goalie Andrew Engelage Wednesday night in Prescott Valley. The Beast ended the Sundogs’ five-game winning streak.
Photos courtesy Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
Wednesday's contest marked Brampton's first-ever visit to Prescott Valley. The Sundogs met the Beast in Canada to open the season and hold a 1-3-0 record against the CHL expansion club from just outside Toronto.
Sundogs forward Kevin Baker, the Oakley Player of the Week who scored five goals and registered an assist in Arizona's three-game sweep of the first-place Rapid City Rush last week, didn't manage a point Wednesday.
The Sundogs didn't score on the power play Wednesday. They had lit the lamp on the man advantage in each of their previous six games, going 11-for-35 for 31 percent in that stretch. Heading into the week, Arizona was ranked fourth in the CHL on the power play with a 19.2 percent conversion rate.
Arizona on Wednesday went over the 50,000 mark in attendance to its 21 home games this season. The Sundogs are 9-10-2 at Tim's.
Arizona's all-time record in its first game back following the Super Bowl is now 6-2-0.
With their five-game winning run and 12-game point streak on the line Wednesday night, the Arizona Sundogs couldn't quite break through the Brampton Beast's defense when it mattered most.
Despite out-shooting the visitors 47-18, the Sundogs lost in regulation for the first time since Dec. 31, falling to the Beast, 2-1, in front of 2,424 fans at Tim's Toyota Center.
With the setback in Central Hockey League play, Arizona's record dipped to 20-19-3 (43 points, seventh place), while Brampton improved to 23-19-3 (49 points, fifth).
On the Daily Courier's $5 ticket night, the Beast carried a 2-1 lead into the third period and made it stick thanks largely to goalie Kristofer Westblom, who made 46 saves.
"They played in their D zone a committee by five," Sundogs coach Kevin Colley said. "They clogged up the middle of the ice. And we just weren't fighting hard enough to change the direction of the puck, whether it's coming from the corner or from up top, from our d-men. We've got to earn results.
"They came in ready and we looked sluggish."
Four minutes into the final frame, Sundogs forward David Rutherford came the closest to tying the game after he rang a puck off the Brampton goal's crossbar.
"Our philosophy right now is just to 'protect the house' - keep them to the outside," said Beast defenseman Tyler Butler, a former captain for the Sundogs (2010-12). "Both of our goalies are excellent goalies that can take shots."
Westblom was stingy for the remainder of the third. Even with an extra attacker in the final minute, Arizona couldn't get anything past the net-minder.
"All in all, I don't think we were good enough from the start," Rutherford said of the Sundogs' performance. "Give them credit. They came in and played a good road game. They played exactly how they needed to play when we had been playing really well."
Tied 1-1 at the end of the first, the Beast tallied the go-ahead goal five minutes into the second when Brampton forward Tylor Michel lined a hard shot from Matt Caruana into the top shelf and past the right side of Arizona goalie Andrew Engelage.
Brampton would stay in front 2-1 for the remainder of the second period, although it could've been worse for the Sundogs.
Arizona's D killed off two Beast power plays and Engelage turned away a penalty shot from high-scoring forward Scott Howes to keep the hosts within striking distance.
In the first period, the Sundogs grabbed a 1-0 edge on Rutherford's even-strength goal on assists from Johan Ryd and captain Jason Morgan.
But as quickly as Arizona went ahead, the Beast evened it at 1-1 a mere 21 seconds later when Beast forward Jason Pitton, the club's leading scorer, lit the lamp on a hot shot from long range just beyond the face-off circle.
The first period was dominated by the defenses, although the Sundogs out-shot Brampton, 11-3. Except for a minor hiccup on the Beast's equalizer, the Sundogs' defensemen in front of Engelage shined.
Engelage, who was named the Warrior CHL Goaltender of the Month on Wednesday, made 16 saves Wednesday and lost for the first time in regulation since Dec. 27. He's now 18-9-2 with a 2.41 goals against average and a .919 save percentage.
Westblom earned the victory, and played much better than his stats would indicate. He's currently 13-10-3 with a 3.43 goals against average and an .897 save percentage.
"Our goalie played outstanding," Brampton coach Mark DeSantis said. "He stood on his head and kept us in the game the whole game."
Arizona will host the Beast for two more games this Friday and Saturday. The puck drops at 7:05 p.m. for both contests.
"We know that as a team we all have to be better, and we will be Friday night," Rutherford said. "We took our foot off the gas. All in all the guys are disappointed. But it shows the emotion in there. Guys care and believe we can win every night."