The sense of relief was nearly tangible as the sell-out Meridian Centre crowd watched 19-year-old defenceman Adrien Beraldo throw the metaphorical monkey off his back. The veteran OHL rearguard potted his first goal of the 2019-2020 season, Saturday night. A feat that he hadn’t managed since March 17th of the previous campaign. Beraldo’s heroics in his Niagara home debut didn’t end there. Later in the game, he sprung right winger Ivan Lodnia, who made no mistake and cashed in the game-winner with 1.1 seconds remaining in overtime. Niagara’s first regular-season overtime victory since March 15, 2018.
“It was electric,” said Beraldo of his home debut, grinning from ear-to-ear post-game. Overall, a highly impressive way to end a somewhat checkered beginning to the season.
The Stoney Creek, Ontario, native had been at home awaiting a deal, after seeing action in only five of Kingston’s first 16 games. IceDogs’ executive Joey Burke was on the lookout for a veteran presence on defence after losing key veterans Elijah Roberts (OA) and Mason Howard (01) to injuries. A deal was struck and Beraldo was acquired on November 6th for a 13th round selection in the 2021 Ontario Hockey League’s Priority Selection.
It’s was the opportunity he was seeking.
“Being close to home helps a lot. Playing a lot of minutes that helps. I want to do anything to help the team. Play my game, be a role model. We have a young team. I’m one of the older guys. I want to be a guy the coaches can rely on and be a team-first guy. When the team does well everyone does well individually” said Beraldo. “I’m not used to playing all those minutes, but I’m going to take it and run with it and it’s been great so far.”
With home only half an hour down the QEW, Beraldo is comfortable with his surroundings and his game.
Since being acquired, Beraldo has appeared in four contests, tallying three points (1g-2a). The IceDogs have posted a 2-1-1 record (.625 PT%) with the veteran in the lineup.
“He’s been such a calming influence for us. He’s tough, he’s composed, he has a great shot, good hands,” said IceDogs’ bench boss Billy Burke. It has been a seamless transition for the 6-foot 183-pound blueliner.
“He’s been a great addition; it feels like he’s been here all year,” added Burke.
Likely Beraldo wishes that were the case. Appearing in the lineup on a constancy basis, and aiding in a run into the playoffs, instead, might be the next best thing for Niagara’s newest addition.