Jussi Rynnas shines in win over Titans

This article can be found published on Something’s Bruin.
Jussi Rynnas was spectacular Friday night en route to his sixth win as a Royal. (Mike Ashmore)

Jussi Rynnas was spectacular Friday night en route to his sixth win as a Royal. (Mike Ashmore)

TRENTON, N.J. – After losing four of five against the Trenton Titans this season, it seems as though the Reading Royals have finally found the success needed as they beat the Titans for a second straight game, 4-2, Friday night.

The Royals carried a 3-0 lead into the third period, but allowed the Titans to make things interesting, but a stellar performance from goaltender Jussi Rynnas in a 48-save performance helped the Royals to hold on for the win.

“Back in Finland, I [was on] a bad team, so they gave lots of shots, too,” Rynnas said. “I’m getting used to it. I love it. I want a big game and make the big saves and just try to give a chance to win. Back on the [Toronto] Marlies, I only got 20 or 25 [shots]. Here, I get at least 35 or 40. At least it keeps me in good shape.”

Head coach Larry Courville wasn’t happy with how the team played, despite coming away with the win.

“After the second period, we’re up 3-0, but we didn’t deserve to be up 3-0,” he said. “Same kind of things that we’ve been discussing: odd-man rushes, thinking offense before defense, not playing physical, soft on pucks, losing battles. In the end, they don’t learn their lesson because we get a win. I’m hoping they can come together as a team and realize they have to do a lot better.”

Rynnas, whose 48 saves set a new career high, was undoubtedly the best player on the ice.

“I think he’s played three exceptional games and tonight was one of them,” Courville said. “He’s played well for us and that’s why he’s getting the starts that he’s getting. He won us the game tonight, no question.”

The win was just what the 24-year-old goaltender needed to boost his confidence after allowing five goals the game before.

“[I] just tried to save the first [shot] and don’t give a rebound,” Rynnas said. “Last game, they scored three times on the rebound. I just tried to focus and keep the puck inside my gear.”

Similar to Wednesday night, the Royals caught the Titans sleeping to get on the board first. Dennis McCauley, in his first game since Feb. 4, sped in on a breakaway off a feed from Kenny Ryan. Goaltender Brad Phillips made a great save, but John Scrymgeour, trailing behind, beat Myles Stoesz to the rebound and put it in for his sixth of the year at 7:21 of the first.

The score remained 1-0 after the first period despite two brilliant plays from Titans’ Andy Bohmbach, who had all the flash, but not the finish as he failed to put the puck into an empty net both times he beat Rynnas.

The Royals added to the lead 3:22 into the second. Olivier Labelle wristed one through the legs of Phillips from the left side to make it 2-0, and it’s a lead the Royals know all too well as they’ve been giving up two-goal leads the last handful of games.

Defenseman Ryan Button came to Rynnas’ rescue midway through the period when Rynnas was caught out of the net and couldn’t get back in time, but Button blocked the shot and saved what would have been a sure-goal.

Mikael Bedard kept adding to his point total as a Royal as he scored his fourth on a play from Labelle. Labelle faked Phillips out from behind the net and made a pass to Bedard in front while Phillips was looking the other way, giving the Royals a 3-0 lead 15:31 into the second.

Rynnas’ bid for the shutout ended at 4:32 of the third when Chris Poli scored his first of the season.

A delayed penalty call led to the Titans drawing within one. Bohmbach passed the puck over to Ray DiLauro at the side of the net and one-timed it in at 12:05.

The Titans kept applying the pressure as they out-shot the Royals 15-3 through 15 minutes of the third.

With 4:52 left in the game and the Royals clinging to a 3-2 lead, Rynnas took a shot off the side of his mask – a scary sight to see to a player recovering from a concussion after a similar incident – and broke one of the snaps off. Rynnas made a brief attempt to wear backup Karel St-Laurent’s mask, but found it too small and had to wait for his mask to be fixed.

Once the game resumed, the Titans kept up the pressure, but the Royals iced the game with a goal from McCauley with 3:16 left.

When all was said and done and despite the mistakes, the Royals gained the desperately-needed four points from the Titans over the two games and put them tied with the Cincinnati Cyclones (eighth in the conference) and Chicago Express (ninth in the conference) with 52 points.

Though they never officially gave up the lead in the game, the Royals still struggled while they had it Friday night.

“We have a problem when we lead,” Bedard said. “[We] just turn off or just don’t skate. We had a lead through two and the guys [are] relaxing like we’re done. We’re never done; the period’s not done.”

While Courville is glad they got the two points, he knows the team has been lucky to walk away with some of the wins they have over the season.

“Some games that you deserve to lose, you win, and some of the games that you deserve to win, you lose,” Courville said. “I think we’ve been a beneficiary of some wins that we probably shouldn’t have won.”

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Categories: ECHL, Ice Hockey, Sports

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