Mikael Bedard the hero for Royals on St. Hattrick’s Day

This article can be found published on Something’s Bruin.

The luck of the Irish was on Mikael Bedard's side as he scored a hat trick Saturday night. (Reading Royals)

The luck of the Irish was on Mikael Bedard’s side as he scored a hat trick Saturday night. (Reading Royals)

READING, Pa. – Inside the Sovereign Center in Reading on March 17, you’ll hear the words “St. Hattrick’s Day,” and there were hats aplenty raining down as the Reading Royals celebrated the holiday with a hat trick from Mikael Bedard and a 4-3 overtime win against the Wheeling Nailers.

Bedard now has six points (5G, 1A) in four games against his former team this season.

“[A former player] always seems to come and bite you in the butt, right?” head coach Larry Courville said. “[Bedard] had a great game for us. It’s nice to get that win. We definitely needed it.”

With the regular season down to its last couple of weeks, games are starting to get the feel of the playoffs, and Saturday night was no exception as it was an end-to-end, back-and-forth battle between the two teams: one desperate to make the playoffs and the other trying to win the division.

“It’s pretty stressful because we lost a couple bodies early in the game and we also lost [Ray] Macias later on for most of the second period,” Courville said. “We were playing with four or three d-men. You want to kind of slow the pace, slow the game down a little bit and play smarter.”

The action started early in the game. The Royals received a power play 29 seconds in after Zack Torquato knocked Tyler Brenner head-first into the goal post. He left the game and didn’t return. But the Royals were sloppy with two turnovers at the blue line with former Royal Matt Schepke involved both times. He missed the net on his breakaway, but set up Peter Merth for a short-handed goal at 1:34.

Unfortunately for the Royals, Brenner wouldn’t be the only casualty in the game for them. At eleven minutes, Reading lost Colten Hayes. He appeared to have taken an elbow to the jaw behind the play as the rest of the Royals rushed up the ice. With him down in a heap in the corner, Bedard skated down the slot and wristed one by goaltender Nick Niedert, playing in his first game as a Nailer, to tie the game at 11:19.

While on the power play in the second period, the Royals were more composed and careful with the puck. Hard work down low from Matt Caruana and Chris Doyle led to Bedard’s second of the night as he fought to the front of the net around a couple defenders and backhanded it for a 2-1 Royals lead at 7:37.

Six minutes later, the Nailers evened it back up with a power-play tally of their own. Torquato sent a cross-crease pass over to an awaiting Andrew Hotham at the right side of the net for an easy tap-in past goaltender Mark Owuya.

Early in the third period, Louis Liotti was in the box for a delay of game, but it was the Royals who took advantage. Marc Cantin skated down the left side and released a slap shot from the point that beat Niedert and regained the lead for the Royals at 3:33.

It was the shortest-lived lead of the night as it was once again gone at 6:58 when Louke Oakley fired his shot that made it past a screened Owuya.

Both the Royals and Nailers each had an even-strength, power-play and short-handed goal, but it could only be one team that got the overtime game winner.

The Irish hockey gods were smiling upon Bedard to be that hero.

Yannick Riendeau fought his way down the left side and fed a perfect pass over to the charging Bedard. He shot the puck above the sprawled goaltender to win the game and finish the hat trick. He took a dive and slid down the ice on his stomach in celebration of the win.

“I was just so excited,” Bedard said. “I just [had] to do something.”

Bedard couldn’t believe the pass from Riendeau that set him up.

“He’s a skilled guy, waiting all the time for the perfect pass,” Bedard said. “On his pass – are you kidding me? The saucer went onto the stick and I said, “Wow, amazing.’”

Their win, combined with Cincinnati’s loss, puts them tied with the Cyclones for the final playoff spot, though the Cyclones have a game in hand. The Royals are still very much alive in the hunt for the eighth seed.


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Categories: ECHL, Ice Hockey, Sports

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