Reading Royals vs Stockton Thunder: Kelly Cup Finals Game 1

READING, Pa.

Alex Berry scored four of his five goals this postseason in the Conference Finals against the Cincinnati Cyclones. (Candice Monhollan)

Alex Berry scored four of his five goals this postseason in the Conference Finals against the Cincinnati Cyclones. (Candice Monhollan)

PRE-GAME NOTES

Everything you need to know about this series can be found in my preview piece posted earlier today. Just go here.

The Reading Royals will be wearing special jerseys for tonight’s game.

STARTING GOALTENDERS

The goaltending match-up is Riley Gill for the Royals, who has started the last nine games, against Olivier Roy for the Stockton Thunder, who has started every game this postseason.

GAME TIME

Neither team showed any signs of nerves and came out flying.

Ethan Cox took an early penalty for goaltender interference just 1:15 into the game. Lucky for the Royals, the Thunder’s power play is worse, clicking at just 7.1-percent.

The Royals killed the penalty and once Cox came out, he skated down the ice and his backhanded shot beat Roy to give the Royals a 1-0 lead at 3:27.

Just over four minutes later, the Thunder struck back to even things up. Gill made a big save on a shot from the slot, but Shawn Weller buried the rebound.

The teams traded more quality chances, but neither were able to break through again and the period ended in a 1-1 tie with shots in favor of the Royals, 14-8.

The Royals needed just 1:24 of time to start the second period to take the lead back.

Mark Mitera took a shot from the right circle, which Nikita Kashirsky tipped. The puck hit both posts, but landed by T.J. Syner, who had an empty net and didn’t miss.

The Thunder tied the game back up again on the power play with a blast from the top of the left circle from Harrison Reed at 10:01 of the second.

The period ended tied once again, this time at 2.

A very controversial goal from the Thunder came at 6:27 of the third when Matt Reber swatted the puck in at a borderline height. The Royals immediately argued the ruling, but the referees allowed the goal to stand and the Thunder took their first lead of the night.

If the Royals were angry, they showed it following the goal and starting dishing out big hits and Yannick Tifu capitalized on a Thunder turnover three minutes later and tied the game at 3.

The Royals once again regained the lead, this time at 14:50 of the third after Tifu’s attempted wrap-around kicked out to Kashirsky, who scored.

But the Thunder came right back 18 seconds later with a goal from Nathan Deck.

And guess what?

It still wasn’t over.

Garet Hunt boarded Syner with 2:22 left in the game and the Royals got a late power play, and this time they finally made them pay with a tally from Alex Berry with 47.5 seconds left.

Less than a minute left and the Royals scored. They have to have the game in the bag now, right?

Not so fast.

Twenty-six seconds after Berry’s goal came another tying tally, this one from Ryan Hayes.

Both teams traded very good scoring chances in overtime, including a 3-on-2 by the Thunder.

Gill dished the puck into the neutral zone to Tifu and he skated in, lost control of the puck, but was able to regain it and take a shot on Roy. He made the save, but Kashirsky picked the puck up, skated around behind the net, and sent one top shelf on the goaltender at 9:42 of overtime to send the 5,000+ fans in attendance into a frenzy.

POSTGAME NOTES

Some injury updates: Stanislav Galiev has been skating and is possible to return this series. Barry Almeida and David Vallorani are both ready to return.

The six-goal third period tied an ECHL record for most goals in a period in the playoffs, which was originally set in 1999 between the Mississippi Sea Wolves and Richmond Renegades.

The Royals are now 10-1 when scoring first and 5-1 in overtimes during the postseason.

PRESS ROOM

Nikita Kashirsky

“I think it was one [of the biggest goals I’ve ever scored]. In 2009, I had a pretty important game against Florida…In Game 5, I scored with 35 seconds left in the game and had a game winner. We were up 3-2 going to Florida and we ended up winning the series and kept going and winning. But, [tonight’s goal] is pretty up there.”

“Everyone’s pretty confident. Guys were saying [in the locker room] we’ve got a lot of overtime wins. We had a big win against Florida and [Cincinnati]. We’re pretty confident going into overtime.”

“They’re a hardworking team and you can see. They capitalized on our mistakes. Not to take away from their team – they’re a very good team with a good goalie. We’ve just got to play smart and not give them any chances.”

T.J. Syner

“I think we’ve been that team all playoffs. We’ve had a few games where we’ve just took it down to the wire. We’re a team that doesn’t quit. A game like that, we come out hard all the way.”

“It was kind of back-and-forth there for a bit – goal after goal. We got on a little bit of a high when we scored and all the sudden they come back and we’d be like, ‘Aw, we’ve got to do it again.’ But that’s hockey. It’s a back-and-forth game. You’ve got to stay with it. The team that’s going to be mentally strong the whole game will came away with it in the end.”

Alex Berry

“Long time off. We haven’t got that all playoffs, so we got almost a full week of rest to rest the bodies, refuel and get ready for this one.”

“We battled hard tonight to get the win. I would have liked to have done it a little differently. I didn’t think that we needed to take it to overtime, but we’ve been great in overtime all playoffs. We continued the trend of winning in overtime.”

“We had some tough calls out there that maybe we didn’t agree with…We battled through that adversity and we found a way to get it done.”

Patrick Wellar

“This is a team that has gelled so well together. They faced a lot through these playoffs and the regular season with call-ups and what have you and they’ve just always found ways to get wins. It speaks volumes for the type of guys that Larry recruited.”

“That’s a pesky team over there that doesn’t quit. We knew that going in. It’s nice that we finally got to see them. It’s always tough when you have that bit of feeling out process facing a different team with a different look. They’ve earned the right to be here. They’re a good team and they’re well-coached. We have a great challenge ahead of us.”

“Momentum swings in a playoff series are everything We have to make sure we take care of home ice.”

Riley Gill

“It was definitely a back-and-forth battle. We had our chances and they had their chances. They capitalized on theirs. They’re a 60-minute, full, great team over there and we’ve just got to expect a tough series from them.”

“Today was a good test to see what we could do against them. I thought we played well. I thought they played well. The shots were a little lopsided tonight, but they still had their chances. We’ve got to expect another good effort from them tomorrow and we’ve got to bring our A-game, too.”

“It was definitely important to get this first game under our belts. I thought we played really well even though we did give up those goal leads. They played well. They earned their goals. We’ve just got to play better and shut them down tomorrow and know what to expect and just go from there.”

“We’re happy with our offensive side the whole playoffs. They’ve bailed us out in overtime. We’ve had a lot of close overtime games. [It’s] just building our confidence toward the Kelly Cup.”

“I think I’ll reflect on [my ride] after the season. I’m just concentrating on each game in hand here and go from there.”

Yannick Tifu

“Like I’ve been saying all year long, this team has been going through so much adversity and losing guys and having 25 goalies in the lineup and starting 1-5…We didn’t have time to finish celebrating [Berry’s] goal and they already put it in the back of the net. We’ve got so much leadership on that bench that we kind of turned the page quickly. Not because it’s tied up – the game’s not over. We’re not losing by one, we’re just tied up…In overtime, you just put it on net and good things will happen…We came back in the locker room and the guys were talking positive. It was not like guys had their heads between their legs, just watching on the floor. They wanted to go and take that game. I thought we played a good 60 minutes. First time in a while we’ve played a good 60 minutes. I said before the second period, ‘If we play another 20 minutes, good things will happen.’ That’s what happened. Without taking any credit from Stockton, that team was resilient. They made comeback after comeback after comeback. I know it’s going to be a great series. I thought they brought it up tonight and I’m sure they’re bring it up tomorrow afternoon.”

“We’re a team that wants to grind and put some pucks on net. I thought that tonight we came back to our game. I thought the first five or six minutes we were a little nervous. We didn’t see Stockton, Stockton didn’t see us. I thought the two teams were studying each other.”

“It was fun the first five or six minutes after the game getting into the room, the music going. You celebrate, you’ve got one win, but you’re still three away. They’re four away. You’ve just got to get one game at a time. Tonight, I’m going to get home and relax. It was pretty hot in there. The crowd was unbelievable. It was kind of exhausting. I’m just going to turn the page and get ready for tomorrow. [What we did today] doesn’t mean nothing if we lose tomorrow.”

Larry Courville

“We were resilient. I thought they were also resilient. We definitely had to be better. Twice with a couple minutes left when we were up by a goal and each time they were able to come back…We’ve still got to be better. I don’t think that we should have given up five goals. We should have been better, play better defensively…We’ve got to tighten up defensively.”

“We know we’re facing a good goaltender. We’ve got to get more net presence – more traffic in front of him and capitalize on more opportunities and at the same time, we can’t take chances…I like our intensity and our willingness to compete, but I’d just like to see us play better defensively.”

“If we have to make changes tomorrow, we’ll evaluate the video and we have definitely some guys who can play that are not playing right now that could possibly help us or we may go back to the same lineup.”

MAGIC NUMBER

3

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

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