Royals continue to battle for playoffs with SO win over Titans

This article can be found published on Something’s Bruin.
Matt Caruana notched his eighth goal of the season Friday night. (Candice Monhollan)

Matt Caruana notched his eighth goal of the season Friday night. (Candice Monhollan)

READING, Pa. – With six games remaining in the season and two points out of the playoffs, the Reading Royals face a must-win scenario. Four of those six games are against the league-worst Trenton Titans, who are playing the role of spoiler for those teams fighting for a playoff spot.

For the Royals, the game came down to the wire, but they were able to come out on top with a 3-2 shootout win to keep pace in the conference.

“It was hard, I’m not going to lie,” captain Yannick Tifu said. “It was a hard game. Mark [Owuya] was unbelievable in the third period. He keeps us in the game. We’re not usually good in the shootout, but we found a way to win and get the two points.”

The wins never seem to come easy for the Royals. The last five of seven games have been decided by a goal and three of those went past regulation.

“If you have a lot of confidence in you, you know you can win every game, it’s a different game,” head coach Larry Courville said. “You’re winning games by two or three goals. We’re still competing, still battling, we’re getting our wins. Hopefully we can get some ground here on Cincinnati or Chicago.”

Things were a little sloppy as the game opened, but after a 3-on-1 save from Owuya, the Royals tightened things up and began to dominate, out-shooting the Titans 9-3 at one point.

The recent struggles on the penalty kill came back to bite the Royals, despite the strong play. Owuya made the initial save on Andy Bohmbach, but the rebound shot out to Adam Presizniuk waiting on the doorstep to give the Titans the 1-0 lead with 3:13 left in the first period. With the goal, the Royals have now allowed a power-play goal in seven of the last nine games.

The Royals tied things up in the second period. Casey Haines came down the right wing and dished a pass to Ian O’Connor for an easy tap-in at the top of the crease for his first as a Royal since the trade at 8:39.

Matt Caruana gave the Royals the 2-1 lead 65 seconds later. Tifu sent the pass out from behind the net to an awaiting Caruana standing between the hash marks, who buried it past goaltender Brad Phillips.

The Titans didn’t roll over as they tied things back up just over two minutes later. With Owuya down on his side, Chris Poli kept with the puck and was able to get it to squeak through the goaltender from the side of the net.

The third period was all Titans as they refused to let up.

Owuya stepped up and made all the saves he need to keep the game knotted at 2. Just over eleven minutes in, Owuya made a great glove save on a short-handed breakaway by Steve Silva.

With a minute left in regulation, the Royals came close to breaking the tie, but Phillips came up with the save to force the game to overtime.

The Royals came back and poured it on the Titans in the extra frame, forcing the Titans to ice the puck twice, but couldn’t get any past Phillips.

The shootout has been a bit of a problem for the Royals as they have struggled to score, but it wasn’t evident this time around as Yannick Riendeau, Tifu and Caruana all scored. Owuya was able to stop 3-of-4.

Unfortunately for the Royals, the win did not move them up as the Cyclones and Express both won.

The Royals continue to battle for the playoffs, but for them, it’s more than just getting in.

“It’s just not just making the playoffs,” Tifu said. “We want to make a run in the playoffs. The second you make it to the playoffs, everybody starts with zero wins and zero losses. We have to make sure we come ready to play.”

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Categories: ECHL, Ice Hockey, Sports

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