Monday, January 18, 2016


Brampton Beast in Florida-201

The Brampton Beast flew into Fort Myers a week ago to spend a little time in the Florida sunshine. They left last Sunday with very light tans. Normal rainfall for the entire month of January is less than an inch. Last week we had more than six inches of rain, and a couple of tornados. So much for a week of fun in the sun.

Bryan Pitton planned to do a little fishing here. As Tod Lavender can attest, Pitton loves to fish. The weather hampered that activity, although he did get to drop a line at the end of the pier in Fort Myers Beach.

                                                                   Bryan Pitton

Pitton played for the Dukes during the 2004-2005 season, before moving on to the Brampton Batallion of the Ontario Hockey League. Following his junior career, he has moved up and down between the East Coast League and the American League, with one year in England and another in the Central League. He began this year with the Beast, and tore his calf tendon in his very first game.

He has been rehabilitating since that time, and was appreciative of the fact that the team brought him to Florida for some sunshine. We spoke about his stint with the Dukes, and his fondness for the community. He plans to visit this coming summer.

Don't be surprised to see another Beast goaltender in Prince Edward County this summer. Jordan Ruby got the nod for the weekend games against the Florida Everblades. The Beast are in last place in the Eastern Division of the ECHL, with thirty points. The Blades stand first, with 57 points. Ruby played well in both games, especially on Saturday night. He was beaten in overtime, as the Beast fell 2-1, and flew home with one point out of the three games played in Estero.
                                                                   Jordan Ruby

The Beast had a short bench last Wednesday, and signed another former Duke, Joe Zarbo, to the roster. Zarbo played Friday night. He started the season with the Evansville Ice, moved on to Colorado, where he had ten points in 23 games. Zarbo played for the Dukes in the 2009-2010 season, before heading off to Clarkson University.
Another player with a local connection is Luke Pither. He began his hockey career with the Bowmanville Eagles of the OPJHL, then spent time with Kingston, Guelph, Belleville, and Barrie in the OHL. Pither has posted 20 points in 24 games with the Beast.

Chris Auger spent three seasons with the Dukes before heading to the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. He is now in his fifth year of professional hockey. He is one of the scoring leaders for the Beast with 23 points in 33 games.

Yet another former Duke played last week in Estero. Anthony Peters had a proverbial “cup of coffee” with the Dukes in 2006-2007. He now plays for the Florida Everblades. Thus, two former Dukes faced each other on the weekend. Peters has played very well for the Blades, winning 16 games with 8 losses, and a sparkling 2.11 goals against average. He attended St. Mary's University in the Maritimes after his OHL career. He played seven games for the Rochester Americans last year.

Peters added a little extra to his team's overtime win Saturday night by assisting on the winning goal! It was Canadian night in Estero. They sang the anthem, (which they had neglected on Wednesday night). They served up buckets of Labatt's beer, and they even smothered fries with that horrid mixture of gravy and cheese. Did someone order poutine? The anthem was sung by Cory Marquardt, a country singer from North Bay. His brother Matt is the captain of the Blades, and one of their scoring leaders.

                                                    Fans lining up to paint the ice

After Fridays game, fans were invited to paint the ice. Seriously. It makes one helluva mess; however, it apparently does not affect the vision of the players. There was a long lineup to get the painting started; otherwise, I would have slapped a “Go Dukes Go” in some obvious section.

Oh, Canada!

James Hurst

January 18, 2016  

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