Reading Royals vs Florida Everblades: ECSF Game 6

READING, Pa.

Barry Almeida scored the lone goal for the Royals Tuesday night. (Candice Monhollan)

Barry Almeida scored the lone goal for the Royals Tuesday night. (Candice Monhollan)

PRE-GAME NOTES

The Reading Royals look to close out the series against the Florida Everblades tonight in front of the home crowd. It’s been a battle in this round, especially over the last two games, which both went to overtime and both resulted in wins for the Royals.

Riley Gill has started the last two games and seems to have returned to the No. 1 status over Mark Owuya.

The biggest win this series, in the honest opinion of this beat writer, was Game 5. The Royals could have rolled over and given up when they blew a 2-0 lead after the first period and allowed the Everblades to come storming back and score four unanswered goals, which lasted until about six minutes left in regulation.  The power play, to that point, was still lacking in production and they were given a prime opportunity in the dying minutes of the game. What did the Royals do? Scored two power-play goals to tie the game in the final 5:30 of the game and went on to win in overtime.

That, ladies and gentlemen, could very well be the key moment in these playoffs for the Royals. That may have been what this team needed: a huge comeback win and two very timely power-play tallies.

So here the Royals sit with the series lead for the first time this round. It’s crucial for the Royals to wrap it up tonight. You don’t want to give the opposition any hope and momentum with a win heading into a Game 7. It will also give players a little breather before the next round because the team has got to be dinged up with the amount of sacrificing this team has done in regards to blocking shots.

STARTING GOALTENDERS

Gill is receiving his third straight start in net after posting two wins in his last outings.

The Everblades are returning to Jesse Deckert after letting Brady Hjelle have the start in Game 5. Don’t let his numbers (3.31 GAA, .894 SV%) fool you. He’s a solid netminder.

GAME TIME

The first period could not be more evenly matched than it was. Both sides came out ready to play and it was a back-and-forth battle between the two with no real victor.

Ref Nic Leduc was clear he would be letting both sides play as numerous holds and slashes went unnoticed, but the Royals’ Dustin Stevenson was called for a trip at 12:11 of the first period. The Royals were able to keep the puck out of the net during the ensuing power play.

The first period came to an end with no score, no clear victor and both sides had nine shots each.

The Royals were back on their heels in the latter half of the second period following a 4-on-4 which had A.J. Jenks in the box for the Everblades and Joel Champagne for the Royals. The Everblades were putting a ton of pressure on Gill and one very nearly went in. The red light even went off behind Gill, but it did stay out.

The home team was able to withstand the onslaught and slowly tilted the ice back even.

A power play to the Royals produced no goals but shifted the momentum a little more in their favor.

With 49.2 seconds left in the second period, the Royals were able to get the all-important first goal of the game. Champagne wrangled the puck in front of the crease and passed over to an awaiting Barry Almeida, who faced no opposition with Deckert’s attention focused on Champagne, and buried it into the empty net.

Adam Brace, who is tied for the lead in rookie scoring this postseason, added another one to his points with a deflection goal at 10:23 of the third to tie the game up.

It took just 90 more seconds for the Everblades to take the lead. Leigh Salters, positioned right in front of the crease, banged in the game-winning goal. The Royals were furious over the goal, including Gill himself, but the call stood.

With 1:07 left in regulation, Gill was pulled for the extra attacker, but it was no use as the Royals fell 2-1 and the series now heads to a do-or-die Game 7 Wednesday night.

POSTGAME NOTES

This is the first time this postseason where the Royals have lost a game after scoring the first goal. They were 6-0 before tonight’s loss.

Stanislav Galiev remains out with an injury suffered in Game 4.

PRESS ROOM

Riley Gill

“We obviously didn’t come out how we wanted to in the third period. [We] let a breakaway in the first minute. I thought they had probably five or six more quality chances. We just didn’t get it done tonight and we’ve got to come out stronger tomorrow.”

“I’ve just got to control my game. It’s all I can do. We’ve got to get off to a better start. Even though we got the first goal tonight, I think we kind of sat back after that and kind of took it down a gear instead of taking it up a couple more gears. Tomorrow night, we’ve just got to keep going, keep the pedal to the metal and hopefully score some more goals.”

“They’re the defending champs. They’re not going to be an easy out and they played a great game tonight. It’s been a great series. Seven games is a quality thing for this series here.”

“We thought it was a high stick [on Salters’ goal]. The ref said it wasn’t over the crossbar…We were complaining it was a high stick and the ref didn’t see it. We’ve got to live with it.”

Barry Almeida

“It’s frustrating. We had the momentum going into the third and then they got one and they got another one quickly after, but that’s the way hockey is. You take your foot off the gas pedal and the next thing you know, it’s in the back of your net. I think we’ll be ready. We have a do-or-die game tomorrow.”

“It’s do-or-die. You’ve got to put it all on the line there. You win, you move on. You lose, you go home. I think we’ll respond well.”

“Playoff hockey, you want to take it as you’ve been playing all year, but at the same time, crucial mistakes can cost you. You’ve got to play smart, play hard and make little plays to get pucks out of your zone and get pucks to the net.”

MAGIC NUMBER

9

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

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