Royals’ power play fuels them to a win

The Reading Royals won their first home opener since 2005 Saturday night against the Cincinnati Cyclones. (Candice Monhollan)

The Reading Royals won their first home opener since 2005 Saturday night against the Cincinnati Cyclones. (Candice Monhollan)

READING, Pa. – The Reading Royals treated their fans to an exciting 3-2 win over the Cincinnati Cyclones in their home opener Saturday night. The win ended the streak of five straight home opener losses for the Royals.

Goaltender Mark Owuya received his first win of the season with a 36-save performance, highlighted by two huge saves on point-blank shots within the final two minutes of the game to preserve the lead and hold on for the win.

“I really got to work a lot this game,” Owuya said. “A lot of action around the net – always on the net.”

The Royals’ power play was the story of the night. Heading into the game, the Cyclones had been 4-for-4 on the penalty kill, but the Royals ended that as every goal from them came on the power play. Reading was able to convert three times on seven chances.

Forward Matt Caruana, in his second season with the Royals, had a big hand in the win. He assisted on the first two goals and provided the game winner late in the third period.

“There was nothing pretty about [the goal] at all,” Caruana said. “I noticed the goalie was just off the post a bit and I just tried to throw it on net and it kind of hit the back of his foot and just trickled in by maybe an inch.”

The game got off to a rough start for the Royals. They were sloppy in their end for the first 10 minutes and were out-shot 19-15 in the first period. Owuya was caught behind the net and Keith Seabrook passed the puck to Ben Ryan who had an empty net to take a 1-0 lead.

“It was tough because we took a penalty right off the first minute and I think they had five shots on that first power play they had,” head coach Larry Courville said. “We didn’t play great defensively…but we played better as the game went.”

With Anthony Luciani in the box for interference, the Royals were able to get the equalizer with a tally from Rob Shearer. It was Shearer’s first goal of the season and first as a Royal.

The Cyclones took advantage of a power play chance when Matt Schepke was in the box for tripping. Adam Comrie fired a rocket from the bottom of the dot in the right circle and Owuya had no chance to make the save. Cincinnati held a 2-1 lead after two periods.

Casey Haines scored his first of the season when the puck found it’s way through a mass of bodies to his spot near the top of the crease to give the Royals their second power-play goal of the night.

Former Royal Robert Slaney was sent to the box for hooking and Caruana scored the game winner with 5:05 remaining in the game. Owuya came up big in final minutes of the game to help keep the lead.

“I thought we got better as the game went on,” Caruana said. “We capitalized on our power plays and it’s always good to see the character of the team come back, down 2-1 going into the third.”

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Categories: ECHL, Ice Hockey, Sports

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