Reading Royals vs Stockton Thunder: Kelly Cup Finals Game 2

READING, Pa.

Nikita Kashirsky was last night’s overtime hero for the Reading Royals. (Candice Monnhollan)

Nikita Kashirsky was last night’s overtime hero for the Reading Royals. (Candice Monnhollan)

PRE-GAME NOTES

If you wanted a close, back-and-forth, overtime thriller, then last night was your game.

If you missed it, then what on Earth were you doing?!?

It didn’t seem like the first game of the series between the Reading Royals and Stockton Thunder would amount to too much after a 1-1 first period and 2-2 second, but the third was an offensive explosion which saw six goals scored – three each – in clusters.

One team barely had time to celebrate before the other was tying it up with a goal of their own.

Lucky for the Royals, the overtime magic continued into the Cup Finals and Nikita Kashirsky scored almost halfway through the extra session to send the team and fans into a frenzy and give the Royals a 1-0 series lead.

Today is a big game because out of the 24 ECHL Finals series, 13, or 54.2-percent, of them end in five games.

STARTING GOALTENDERS

Goaltending match-up remains the same for today. Riley Gill is in net for the Royals and Olivier Roy is in net for the Thunder.

GAME TIME

The Royals looked much stronger to start the game. The controlled much of the play until they were caught when Ryan Hayes snuck behind the defense and sped in on a breakaway, but caught iron.

Shortly after, Roy overplayed on Evan Barlow and the Royal sent a great pass over to Alex Berry, who had an empty net to tap the puck in to give the Royals a 1-0 lead 8:32 into the game.

Linesmen Francis Trempe took a puck to the body and was feeling it about halfway through the first. He had to kneel on the blue line to be able to keep going, but just like a hockey player, he’s a champ and stayed in the game.

The Thunder failed to clear the puck out and Brett Flemming caught it in the air and blasted a shot from the right point and found the back of the net to give the Royals a 2-0 lead at 13:33 of the first.

On a Royals power play, Mike Little attempted to clear the puck, but T.J. Syner deflected it. Joel Champagne corralled the puck and passed it to Brock Shelgren at the point. Syner tipped the puck in close and extended the lead to 3-0 with 1:37 left in the first (video here).

Barlow extended the lead to 4-0 one second after a power play ended late in the second period. His shot from the goal line hit Roy’s stick and went in at 15:11.

The Thunder came out to start the third with Tyler Bunz in net instead of Roy.

The move made no difference and the Thunder just could not solve the brick wall that was Gill.

POSTGAME NOTES

This is the second time Bunz has come in to relieve Roy. The first was in the Conference Quarterfinals against the Las Vegas Wranglers.

The shutout is the third of the playoffs for Gill, which ties him for third in ECHL history (it has been done 11 times previously). The record is five by Maxime Gingras set in 1999.

PRESS ROOM

Brett Flemming

“We knew, from our goalie all the way to our forwards, every could have been better in the D-zone [last night]. Pretty talented team, so we know our offensive is going to take care of itself. If we play like we did tonight, we have a really good chance of winning the Kelly Cup.”

“It’s the longest we’re going to be traveling all year and it’s a pretty quick turnaround where we play Tuesday. You only get one day off. We’re going to have to get our legs under us real quick.”

Alex Berry

“It was great to get the win last night, but you never want to give up five goals if you can help it. We went over some stuff today, some stuff to shore up on our end. Gill played great for us tonight and I think it was a great 60-minute team effort and good get to wins at home. We needed to be up 2-0 going to Stockton.”

“Our power play was struggling a little bit coming into this series. We changed things around. We needed to come through and if you get a power-play goal every game, I think you have a good chance to win.”

“The way the series is set up, even if you split at home, you’re still kind of behind the 8-ball. Every game is huge and, even more so, the home games because those are in your building and you get last change. It’s great that we got the two wins and now we’re going to have a real test going to Stockton.”

“That [standing ovation at the end] was awesome. The fans here have been great all year and been great in the playoffs. They really came out and supported us the last two nights. It was great to get a couple wins for them.”

T.J. Syner

“We’re an offensive team. We’ve got guys with a ton of skill. We like to generate shots, grind down low…We’re at our best. We’re getting pucks deep and we’re generating a lot of shots.”

“[Gill]‘s been our backbone, our MVP. He’s been unbelievable. Night in, night out, he battles hard…He’s a good motivator to the guys. A quiet kid, but when you have him in net, it’s a lot more comfortable to play.”

“We’ve had a few of those games – ones we let slip away or ones we came back, but to win one in regulation 4-0 feels pretty good.”

Evan Barlow

“You look at Stockton’s record at home – they’re 8-2. They’re a different team at home [and] we know that. We had to take care of business here and keep home-ice advantage for sure.”

“We’ve had a lot of good [goaltenders] this year and Gill’s no different. He’s standing tall. He bounced back. It wasn’t his best effort last night – he knows that. He really rose up to the occasion tonight.”

Riley Gill

“We had another 60-minute effort out of our team tonight. I was able to keep them off the scoreboard and keep their hopes out of the game. That helped. If they had gotten one or two, I think it would have been a different game here. I think they need that first spark and I was able to shut them off from that.”

“[The three goals in the first] was huge for us. We just concentrated on a 60-minute game. We knew it was only one period and like last night, they came back on us, so we knew we had to stay focused. It’s always nice to get that early lead and we protected it nice tonight.”

“It’s going to be a tough test out in Stockton. We’ve just got to keep to our game plan and hopefully it works out.”

Larry Courville

“It was nice, of course, to get three [goals] in the first period, but there was a couple turnovers defensively. When we had those, our goalie came up big for us. I thought in the second we sat back a little bit and made some mistakes…For the most part, I thought our guys played a pretty good 60 minutes and compete hard. In the end, it was just protect the lead and play smart hockey, which was the right thing to do.”

“It’s a different story. We’re going into their building. It’s always nice to start at home. That’s what we fought for all year to make sure we had home-ice advantage in the playoffs. It definitely helped us in the second round against Florida. It’s helped us here so far…They’re a pretty good team in their building, 8-1-1. We know they’re going to come out hard for the third game and try to take it to us. We’ve got to match that intensity and energy and hope we get the big win.”

“A put a call into George [McPhee] and invited him and Doug [Yingst] to the game. We’ve got some players here that I’m sure they wanted to see how they perform in the playoffs. I think they have some tough decisions at the end of the year with some of the guys. They’ve played very well. They’ve earned the right to possibly get up to the American League and show their skills. But I also wanted to thank them. It’s been a great season working with them. We just wanted to kind of showcase our players and let George and Doug see what we have.”

“I know I was a little less stressful behind the bench. I was pulling my hair in Game 1 and a few games this year. We’ve had six OT games and won five of those. The guys have done a great job winning those close games and feel confident to play those kind of games. It was nice not to go to OT tonight.”

MAGIC NUMBER

2

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

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