Reading Royals vs Greenville Road Warriors: ECQF Game 2

READING, Pa.

Riley Gill has gone 120 minutes without allowing a goal this postseason. (Candice Monhollan)

Riley Gill has gone 120 minutes without allowing a goal this postseason. (Candice Monhollan)

PRE-GAME NOTES

Despite the Greenville Road Warriors being a No. 8 seed, they played a tight game with the Reading Royals Friday night. It was nerve-wracking for the fans and even coach Larry Courville, but one goal was enough for the Royals to win and take a 1-0 series lead.

The big concern which still remains for the Royals is the power play. They were 0-for-6 on the man advantage and had a 5-on-3 for 1:48. The penalty kill is still clicking very well.

Riley Gill was stellar once again for the Royals, continuing his superb play since being signed.

Overall, Courville was very pleased with the way his team played and felt they were committed the entire 60 minutes.

STARTING GOALTENDERS

No surprise that Gill, who made 18 saves en route to a shutout last night, will be back in net for the Royals.

Connor Knapp will also be back in net for the Road Warriors, who had a good game last night as well, minus the one goal which came off a turnover in their own end.

GAME TIME

It’s not really a game-time mention, but during the last two minutes of warm-ups, both teams charged at each other at center ice. Plenty of chirping went on and it looked like a scrum might ensue, but both teams separated. For being only the fourth time these two teams have seen each other this season, things are mighty testy already.

It was a very back and forth first period, but the Royals once again dominated in shots because they blocked like crazy.

Knapp could very well be the difference in this series for the Road Warriors. The last two games would not be this close if not for him. Lucky for the Royals, they have Gill on their side who can match his skill.

With 28.3 seconds left in the first, Gill came up huge with a right pad save. He was knocked into right after and lost his mask. The Royals got a late penalty out of it, but still couldn’t capitalize on the man advantage.

The first period came to an end scoreless once again with the shots 13-6 in favor of the Royals.

A collision between a Royal and Marc-Olivier Vallerand in the neutral zone on a Royals power play sent Vallerand out of the play as he rolled around the ice in pain. It turned into a 5-on-3 for the Royals with Vallerand out as the play continued on. Alex Berry scored with the advantage at 2:30 of the second period.

The tone of the game started to turn in the second. Hits were beginning to go from making a play to taking a player out of the game. At one point, T.J. Syner almost had his head ripped off skating through the neutral zone and just barely avoided the hit.

The Royals turned the pressure up and began to really show why they were the No. 1 seed halfway through the second, sending shot after shot at Knapp with several coming just inches of going by the 6-5 goaltender.

Stanislav Galiev struck at 16:47 of the second to extend the Royals lead to 2-0 and gave them more cushion than they had the night before.

The second came to a close with the 2-0 score and shots were 14-7 in the period in favor of the Royals.

Yannick Tifu fed a great pass over to Nikita Kashirsky, who only needed to tip it by Knapp to make it 3-0 Royals 2:45 into the third. Just 36 seconds later, Syner extended it to 4-0. Greenville coach Dean Stork yanked Knapp and put Garrett Bartus in for his profession debut.

Steven Delisle hit Ethan Cox with 1:17 left in the game and sent him down to the ice. The trainer came out, but Cox was able to skate to the bench on his own. Delisle was assessed a five-minute major for cross checking. Delisle and T.J. Reynolds were both tossed from the game.

POSTGAME NOTES

Gill has now gone 120 minutes without allowing a single goal in the 45 shots he’s faced in the playoffs. That is his fifth shutout in 15 games with the Royals this season.

The ECHL record for longest shutout streak in the postseason is 199 minutes and 59 seconds set in 1999 by Travis Scott. In essence, Gill will have to play another game plus an additional period to match it.

With tonight’s power-play goal, the Royals are now 1-for-12 (8.3%) in the series.

The Royals have killed off all five Road Warrior power plays.

PRESS ROOM

Nikita Kashirsky

“I don’t think they didn’t have the will. It was 2-0 – gave us a little bit of breathing room out there. The third goal, Tifu had a nice pass to me. I kind of just one-touched that in…That was kind of a nail in the coffin there 3-0 in the third period.”

“It definitely gives us a lot of confidence playing such great games. They haven’t scored one goal yet. We’ll try to keep it that way.”

“Everyone is so excited for [Gill]. He came in and he played awesome hockey with us. We’ve got to give it to him. He’s playing great and we’re happy to have him here. We’re going to lay our bodies in front of the net or whatever is necessary.”

“It’s going to be tough the first game [in Greenville]. They have nothing to lose. I don’t think we’ve got to think about it right now. Put the past behind us, work hard, practice again, concentrate on our best plays and correct some mistakes. We’re going to work probably a little more on the power play.”

Ethan Cox

“So far we’ve done well at staying disciplined and keeping our tempers and really playing within the whistles and taking care of that part of the game. Nothing of importance really happens once the whistle stops except for just nonsense.”

“That’s part of their game is getting traffic to the net and that’s something we want to do more of. They’re good at that. We have got big, strong d-men who have to box out and protect Gill and they’ve been doing it so far. The refs, at some point, have to step in and protect the goalie and hopefully they do that.”

Yannick Tifu

“The word before the game and even at the start of the playoffs, we said we’ve got to stay out of trouble and stick together. I don’t really appreciate the move on Cox…Hopefully there will be a review and get a suspension. It’s a long series. We’ll fix it when it’s going to be the right time to do it. We’re not going to do it cheap, but he’s going to know that what he did was not right. We just want to match the intensity check-for-check, that’s the key. At the same time, we want to stay out of trouble and I think in the first two games we did a really good job to stick together and finish.”

“I really don’t know [what happened during warm-ups]. I kind of came last. I think they were trying to get in our head. I think it’s the key right now. I don’t know what they’re saying on the other side, but maybe without scoring goals, they want to get into our head and maybe we take some bad penalties so they can get on the power play. What right now is the story of the playoffs is there’s a lot of checks, there’s a lot of scrums after the whistle. I think they’re just trying to get into our heads. We’re just not going to back down.”

“I feel like all year we get the same question over and over. We scored one goal [on the power play]. Yes, it was 5-on-3 because a guy was in the middle of the ice laying down. The unit of [David] Vallorani had some great movement…The good thing is we won two in a row. Remember at the beginning of the season we won 11 in a row, we went 3-for-64 on the power play. The power play, yes it’s huge in the playoffs, but we’ll have to work on it. It’s huge to put a team away when you score a big goal like in the beginning of the third period, but right now we’re happy with the way we played.”

Larry Courville

“You’ve got to be pleased. No goals against. I thought again we played, for the most part, 60 minutes. We had a little lapse in the second period in the first five or six minutes. Otherwise from there, I thought we out-played them for most of the game. The goalie made some saves when he needed to make them and the guys capitalized on that one power play. Four goals – you’ve got to be happy.”

“Of course I’m happy with [Gill’s] play. He’s been great for us and hope he continues. He’s given us a lot of confidence. The boys can play with confidence and they can see plays offensively and not play so defensive-minded all the time. They know if they have a breakdown, he’s capable of making the big save for us.”

“Going into their building, I’m sure our line match-ups are not going to be as what we had here at home. We may decide to switch up some lines and kind of give ourselves a better opportunity to match against some of the lines they have.”

“We all talked about the playoffs are a different game. Yeah, the regular season is one thing, but playoffs are about compete and playing the right way. I think we’ve done that the last couple games and we want to continue that and hopefully we can.”

MAGIC NUMBER

14

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Categories: ECHL, Ice Hockey, Kelly Cup Playoffs, Sports

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