Barring an outright meltdown, the Newfoundland Growlers, sporting the third-best record in the ECHL at 30-14-2-0, are destined for the Kelly Cup playoffs this spring.
So the reality of leaving a point on the board — and perhaps two — Wednesday night in a 2-1 loss to the Brampton Beast at Mile One Centre isn’t completely devastating.
But it doesn’t make what happened with 2:05 left in the second period Wednesday any easier to accept.
With the Beast on the power play and the puck on the stick of Brampton’s Brandon Marino to the right of Newfoundland goaltender Michael Garteig, Marino fired the puck at the Growlers’ net which slipped past Garteig, slid through the crease, hit the opposite post and rebounded out.
Play continued until the buzzer to end the period. It was at that point the Beast asked referee Matt Menniti to check with his linesman and goal judge to confirm the puck did in fact cross the goal line.
The officials concurred it did, and ruled it a goal.
By this time, the Growlers had retreated to their dressing room for the second-period intermission, so the 2:05 which had to be replayed was tacked on to the third period.
The Marino goal gave the Beast as 2-0 lead, but it turned out to be the game-winner as the Growlers’ Matt Bradley scored the only goal of the third period.
Officials did not go to video replay because the ECHL has no such policy, despite this being 2019. It is currently being tested in four markets, but will be coming on stream league-wide next season.
During the six years of the St. John’s IceCaps’ existence in the American Hockey League, the team and Mile One Centre were equipped for video replay.
However, with the ECHL currently without video replay, and given the Colorado Eagles’ rather late entry into the AHL, the equipment that was used in St. John’s to review plays was loaned to Colorado.
“Even if we had the equipment in place here,” said Growlers’ president Glenn Stanford, “the officials would not be able to use it because right now, video replay is not in the ECHL.”
The imminent arrival of video replay next season will cost the Growlers between $5,000-$10,000. It’s not as simple as retrieving their old video replay equipment from Colorado.
“You just don’t stick a camera up in the rafters,” Stanford said. “It all depends on the system the league elects to use.”
The Growlers were still talking about the controversial goal Thursday, arguing that if the puck was actually across the goal line as it slid through the crease, the angle at which it hit the post on the other side would not have allowed it to ricochet towards centre ice.
“How they could agree 100 per cent that it was in,” Stanford said, “I don’t know.”
Meantime, the Growlers clew up their seven-game homestand with a rare three-game series against the Fort Wayne Komets, starting tonight at Mile One Centre.
“How they could agree 100 per cent that it was in, I don’t know.” — Glenn Stanford
The Komets, from Indiana, are fifth in the Central Division at 22-17-1-3.
The Growlers have played 12 homestands at Mile One so far this season, and have swept six of them. Five, including the last two against Brampton and the Worcester Railers, resulted in splits and Newfoundland has been swept at home only once this season.
Game times today and Saturday are 7 p.m., with Sunday’s start time set for 4 p.m.
Meantime, it will be Iron Man clashing with Captain America Sunday at Mile One in the ECHL’s Marvel Super Hero Night.
The Growlers will be dressed in Iron Man-themed duds, while the Komets will be wearing uniforms similar to that of Captain America.
The jerseys, supplied by the league, will be auctioned off live during the game. As well, there will be Marvel-themed contests throughout the night, and fans are encouraged to dress up as their favourite heroes for a chance to win a VIP suite for 15 people.
To add to the family-friendly atmosphere, tickets for kids 12 and under are only $10 plus taxes and surcharges.
In early December, as part of the league's partnership with Nickelodeon, the Growlers wore special Paw Patrol jerseys featuring Chase, a character from the cartoon, in a game against Brampton.