Jussi Rynnas shuts door on Greenville, Royals with big win

This article can be found published on Something’s Bruin.
Jussi Rynnas made 37 saves for his first shutout with the Reading Royals. (Candice Monhollan)

Jussi Rynnas made 37 saves for his first shutout with the Reading Royals. (Candice Monhollan)

READING, Pa. – All season long, the Reading Royals needed at least three goals to win a game. They changed things Saturday night when they defeated the Greenville Road Warriors, 1-0, for their eighth win at home.

It also marked the second shutout from the team in five games and for goaltender Jussi Rynnas, it was his second game in the last three where he’s allowed no goals. Following the end of the game, the Finnish netminder put on a huge celebration.

“It just feels so good,” Rynnas said. “I have been a little bit sick all week, so it feels so good to be back in the game and play good. Everybody fought so hard the whole game. I wanted to share [the celebration] with everybody.”

The game was far from an easy one for the Royals as the Road Warriors threw everything they had at them for most of the game, but were unable to solve Rynnas after he came up with one spectacular save after another, finishing the game with 37 total saves.

“I think we held on from the drop of the puck,” head coach Larry Courville said. “They came hard and we turned the puck over. In the end, our goaltender won us that game tonight. He made some backdoor saves. I can remember probably two or three of them. He definitely was our first star. Sometimes those are the ones you need and I guess he redeemed himself for that last game.”

The Royals have been playing better hockey coming down the stretch and it’s showing in their record, going 5-1-1 over their last seven games.

“We’re definitely playing better,” said Olivier Labelle, the lone scorer of the game. “I think finally, as a team, we’re starting to play with a little urgency. We know the standings. We know the situation. I’m not saying we took it lightly earlier in the season, but we weren’t consistent and now our backs are against the wall and we want to make the playoff push.”

It didn’t take long for the Royals to notch a goal. Two seconds after their first power play ended in the first period, Labelle tallied his 26th of the season as he stood on the doorstep and got is past goaltender Jason Missiaen at 4:24. It marked the ninth consecutive game where the Royals struck first. Prior to the game, the Royals were 4-3-0-1 over that span.

Rynnas kept the lead for the Royals with several huge saves, including one late in the first on a rocket from Jeff Prough.

Rynnas’ strong play continued in the second, even with the push from the Road Warriors. He made a save on Justin Bowers, who was left alone at the left side of the net. He was staring at a wide-open net, but Rynnas slid from post-to-post in time to prevent them from tying the game.

Though the first 10 minutes of the period, the Royals were out-shot 11-2, but began to change the momentum on the penalty kill. Kenny Ryan and Marc Cantin skated in on a 2-on-1 short-handed breakaway, but Missiaen made the stop.

In the final few minutes of the second, the Royals came on strong with a couple scoring chances, including on a power play, but were unable to extend their lead.

In the third period, the Royals had a minus-11 goal differential and minus-279 in shot differential coming into the game. They made sure to remain on the plus side of things this time around as they out-shot the Road Warriors 8-7 and didn’t allow a tying goal.

About midway through the third, Denny Urban’s shot was redirected by Yannick Tifu and flipped over Missiaen’s shoulder and in, but the goal was waved off because of Tifu’s high stick.

With 4:33 left, a shot finally beat Rynnas. It hit him and squeezed through, but hit the pipe and stayed out.

“I had bad luck last game, so I think I deserved that one,” said Rynnas.

The Road Warriors kept throwing everything except the kitchen sink at the Royals in the dying minutes, and were given more of an opportunity when Labelle was whistled for slashing with 1:30 left. Missiaen was pulled and gave the Road Warriors a 6-on-4 advantage for the rest of the game, though they were never able to beat Rynnas.

“I needed to have a good game and show to everybody and the team that they can trust me and I’m not that kind of goalie that gives easy goals every game,” Rynnas said. “Games like that, we are fighting for a playoff spot, so you have to be big and you have to give a chance and you have to make a big save. The team needs those.”

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Categories: ECHL, Ice Hockey, Sports

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