Royals perfect in shutout win during Pink in the Rink

This article can be found published on Something’s Bruin.
The Royals donned special Pink in the Rink jerseys, which they are undefeated in over the last five years. (Candice Monhollan)

The Royals donned special Pink in the Rink jerseys, which they are undefeated in over the last five years. (Candice Monhollan)

READING, Pa. – Five years of Pink in the Rink with five wins. The special pink jerseys have a little bit of luck in them as they helped fuel the Reading Royals to a 4-0 win over the Wheeling Nailers Saturday night in front of their largest crowd of the season at an announced 6,921.

It was the first shutout of the season for a club that had allowed one goal against in only one game this season.

“I heard that [in] every game, this team has given up at least two goals,” goaltender Jussi Rynnas said. “It’s fun to have a shutout here because it may be the hardest place to get one. I’m really happy about that.”

It was the most complete game seen from the Royals from the net on out. The Royals took control of the game and never looked back.

“I think they screwed themselves,” head coach Larry Courville said. “Finally they can play a full 60-minute game, so I expect it now every game. The team played very well defensively, our gap was very good, we were aggressive, we finally finishing some checks, we were winning some battles and that’s all I’ve been asking for all year.”

Two of the biggest issues all season long have been defense and playing an entire game, both of which were handled perfectly Saturday night.

“We’ve been 20, 40,” defenseman Dave Cowan said. “[Courville] said after the game this was a good 60-minute game. It’s hard to do. It’s hard to stay focused for 60. The guys did a really good job tonight…We’re feeling good. It’s contagious. Our forwards are playing good, our goalie is playing good. We’re holding each other accountable, so it’s good to get two points tonight.”

The game took an odd start from the beginning as Rynnas, set to be the starter, came out during the pregame introductions and immediately headed down the tunnel with equipment issues. While things were being taken care of, Courville put backup Karel St-Laurent in net to start the game.

After 5:31 elapsed and there was a stoppage of play, Rynnas returned and switched with St-Laurent for the remainder of the game.

“I broke my skate,” he said. “I don’t know what happened. I take the first step, and the steel was broken. Yesterday I broke my mask. We have good trainers here, so they fixed it.”

Asked if it was hard to mentally jump into a game midstream, Rynnas said, “I was ready. I played so much, so no matter when, I’m ready to go. That’s the good part to playing a lot. You’re always ready and you don’t have to get your mind into the game. It’s always there.”

The Royals, for the fifth consecutive game, opened the scoring. They received a power play late in the first period and capitalized on it.

Yannick Tifu shot the puck from the point through traffic and clanked off the iron, but Denny Urban grabbed the puck and passed it across the crease. Matt Caruana skated hard around behind the net to the right post and had an easy tap in for the power-play goal with 1:04 remaining in the first.

The Royals kept the pressure up in the second period as they continued to control the game.

Ryan Button skated down the left side and made a drop pass to a trailing Casey Haines, who wristed it from the left circle to take a 2-0 lead 6:08 into the second.

For five games in a row, the Royals have taken a 2-0 lead, but in the previous four, they couldn’t hold on to the two-goal spread and also lost two of those games – a fate they were hoping to avoid from happening again.

During 4-on-4 hockey, the Royals had a couple good chances, but it was immediately as it ended that they struck. Dale Mitchell skated straight from the box toward the slot. Tifu slid a pass to Mitchell and he kicked the puck to his stick and backhanded it by goaltender Peter Delmas at 13:54 to give the Royals a 3-0 lead.

Déjà vu crept in as the Royals took a 3-0 lead into the second intermission, just as they had a night before. But the Royals kept that out of their minds and came out as strong as they had the previous two periods.

“You can’t look at the past,” Cowan said. “You just have to focus on what’s coming up next. Mitchell actually said something like, ‘Don’t worry about what’s happened in the past. Just worry about what’s coming up.’”

That’s exactly what they did as they tacked on another goal to extend their lead to 4-0.

The Royals were in the midst of killing a double minor to Olivier Labelle when Kenny Ryan stripped Zach Hansen at the blue line, skated in on a breakaway and ripped one top shelf above Delmas’ glove at 11:42.

The Royals kept applying the pressure and Rynnas remained unbeatable for the 4-0 shutout win.

Though he made all 31 saves, Rynnas did not receive the shutout, but instead it’s a shared shutout because of St-Laurent starting the game and making a save himself.

“It’s finally nice that we can get that now and hopefully we can strive on that and learn from that and be better here in the future,” Courville said. “If we commit to playing better defensively, we can score goals. Tonight was a great job. Hopefully they learn from that and go on here and do a lot better of a job in the future.”

Ryan Cruthers has missed the last three games, but Courville hopes he’ll make a return on Monday’s afternoon game against the Elmira Jackals.

“He’s seen a couple different doctors,” Courville said. “[We] sent him to a specialist last week. There’s nothing broken, there’s nothing torn. We’ve got a couple different diagnoses. One was negative, one was more positive, which was the specialist. There was a chance he was going to play tonight, but unfortunately he didn’t.”


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Categories: ECHL, Ice Hockey, Sports

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