Unlucky bounce costs Royals as they fall in shootout

This article can be found published on Something’s Bruin.
Kenny Ryan has scored six goals in his last 10 games, including one Monday afternoon. (Mike Ashmore)

Kenny Ryan has scored six goals in his last 10 games, including one Monday afternoon. (Mike Ashmore)

READING, Pa. – The game was going their way, but an unfortunate bounce cost the Reading Royals two big points as they lost, 4-3, after an eight-round shootout against the Elmira Jackals Monday afternoon.

Holding onto a 3-2 lead and seemingly having the win in their hands, a shot from the red line took an unlucky bounce through goaltender Jussi Rynnas to tie the game with 53 seconds left.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime goal,” Rynnas said. “The guy shot, it bounced on the ice just before me and [a] wrong bounce goes through me. It’s a bad luck goal, but what are you going to do? I feel bad.”

Head coach Larry Courville knows how well the team played the whole game and was visibly upset after the loss.

“We deserved two points,” he said. “What am I going to say? You know the answer. We played better than they did. You know what happened. Everyone saw what happened. It’s an unlucky bounce, but it’s not the bounce that caused the goal. Terrible goal. Terrible. The goalie’s got to make the save on that one and I don’t want to call him out, but he knows it. But we also have to score in the shootout. We went 0-for-7. We had an opportunity to get two points and we didn’t.”

The players know that something like that, as rare as it may be, can sometimes happen.

“In hockey, sometimes you get the bounces, sometimes you don’t get the bounces,” defenseman Denny Urban said. “Today, Elmira got the bounce that gave them some momentum [and] tied the game. We played hard the whole game and that’s just hockey.”

Despite the tying goal, Courville still holds to how well Rynnas has played.

“We lost the game because of our goaltender,” Courville said. “It’s a bad goal and he knows it and hopefully we respond back next game against Trenton. He’s won us some games and he’s our No. 1 goalie. It’s just a bad bounce that he needs to have, but the guys don’t have time to sulk here and think about this game.”

For the sixth consecutive game, the Royals got the game’s first goal, this time just past the halfway point of the first period. Urban slipped a pass across the crease to Kenny Ryan, who put it behind goaltender Timo Pielmeier for a 1-0 Royals lead at 10:38.

Fourteen seconds into the second period, Rob Bellamy took a boarding penalty, setting the Royals up on their first power play of the game. Mikael Bedard, clicking alongside Olivier Labelle, fought around the crease for the rebound from Matt Caruana’s shot and passed it over to an open Labelle, who easily tapped it in at 1:06 to give the Royals a 2-0 lead.

For the Royals, they have had six straight 2-0 leads, but two of those have resulted in losses, and they headed in the direction of making it three in the third period.

It took just 1:29 in for the Jackals to get themselves on the scoreboard when Corey Cowick ripped one past Rynnas to pull within one.

The goal ended the Royals’ shutout streak going back to Friday’s game in Trenton in which they went 109:24 without giving up a goal.

Casey Haines restored the two-goal lead with a nasty wrist shot as he flew down the left wing that went top shelf at 7:43 for his 10th of the season.

With 4:27 left in the game, the Jackals were back on the attack. Dustin Gazley, a Royals killer with 11 points against them, added another with his goal. The puck bounced off Rynnas’ glove and in the net to make it 3-2.

It looked as though the Royals were on their way to winning a fourth straight game when the unthinkable happened. A knuckle-puck shot from the red line from Jordan Pietrus bounced its way toward the net and took a fatal last bounce between Rynnas’ pad and arm to tie the game with 53 seconds left.

The game ended in an eight-round shootout. Neither Rynnas nor Pielmeier was willing to budge as they either saved each shot or had a little help from the post. But the eighth round ended it when Kyle Reeds scored the lone goal.

“It’s always tough to lose, but the team’s finally starting to play better, starting to play a full 60 minutes,” Urban said. “We just can’t let this one deflate us. We have to just come back and keep battling.”

With 19 games left in the season, the Royals find themselves two points out of the playoffs. Rynnas has noticed the improvements the team has made in front of him as the compete for the postseason.

“[It’s] the best time of the year, fighting for a playoff spot,” he said. “You want to win every game. Right now, the team’s showing they seriously want to go to the playoffs, so I try to give them a chance to win those games.”

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Categories: ECHL, Ice Hockey, Sports

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