Reading Royals at Stockton Thunder: Kelly Cup Finals Game 4

STOCKTON, Calif.

Tyler Bunz came in relief of Olivier Roy in the first period of the game. (Candice Monhollan)

Tyler Bunz came in relief of Olivier Roy in the first period of the game. (Candice Monhollan)

PRE-GAME NOTES

The Reading Royals hold a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Stockton Thunder after a 3-1 win Tuesday night in Stockton, Calif.

Tonight, they look to become only the fourth team in ECHL history to sweep in the Kelly Cup Finals and bring home the franchise’s first Cup.

I will be holding a live chat again during the game. Click Here

STARTING GOALTENDERS

It comes as no surprise to see Riley Gill in net once again for the Royals, opposed on the other side by Olivier Roy.

GAME TIME

It just wasn’t the Royals’ game tonight.

From the start, the Thunder were out to live and fight another day.

An early breakaway 4:32 in from Matt Reber led to him being unable to get the shot away because a Royal tied him up, leading to only the third penalty shot in Kelly Cup Finals history. He couldn’t fool Gill, though, and the game stayed scoreless.

Shortly after, the Royals were the ones who got on the board first with a tally from T.J. Syner standing in front of the crease at 7:54.

It was a short-lived lead.

At 10:25, Nikita Kashirsky skated hard to the net and with Thunder players behind and the momentum carrying him, he slammed into Roy and knocked him back into the post.

Roy was immediately in pain and was still on the ice while the trainer came out to his aid. It was a few minutes before he was able to get to his feet and he had to be helped off the ice and down to the locker room.

Enter Tyler Bunz.

The Thunder were awarded a power play on the incident and made the Royals pay with a point shot from Nathan Deck, which tipped in by Shawn Weller at 11:05 to knot the game at 1.

Just 1:10 later, the home team took the 2-1 lead on a breakaway goal from Eric Hunter.

The first period ended with the Thunder ahead 2-1 and leading 14-7 in shots.

Reber scored his second of the night at 11:19 of the second to put the Thunder up 3-1.

The period ended with that score and shots in the second were 13-9 Thunder.

The Royals were able to find their legs and gain some momentum in the third.

Kirk MacDonald‘s shot rebounded out to Joel Champagne for his second of the playoffs at 6:01.

But the balloon was popped 1:13 later when the Thunder regained the two-goal lead off Hunter’s second of the game.

Still, the Royals weren’t going away quietly.

Ian O’Connor scored his fifth of the postseason to crawl back within one at 13:42.

With 48.6 seconds remaining in regulation, the Royals had a power play and had Gill pulled, giving them a 6-on-4 advantage. Kashirsky pushed the puck through Bunz, but found iron in the waning seconds.

The Thunder held on to win 4-3.

POSTGAME NOTES

Roy never returned the bench after his injury. It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow. Even if Roy is ready to go, would he get the nod even after Bunz was able to secure the win?

PRESS ROOM

Ethan Cox

“Even once their backup came in, we didn’t generate enough chances on him to kind of test him early and right when he came to the net. I think the guys finally turned it on themselves too little too late. It’s got to be the focus right from the get-go.”

“Definitely probably some nerves for a lot of guys. Kind of a wait and see what they bring mentality and that’s not the way you’ve got to play these close-out games. You’ve got to dictate the tempo and take it to them and take their life away from them. I give credit. They played hard and they came out and did a really good job.”

“We just hung out [on the couple days off]. We saw a movie the other day and just relaxed and waited. When you’re this close and you are one more win away and you get a couple days off, it’s kind of a sit and wait game. Guys got a little restless.”

Tyler Bunz

“[Roy] went down pretty hard. It was a high-speed collision…It happened to him in Idaho. Same kind of thing and it kind of caught me off guard. I was watching and I knew it from the second he got hit that I probably was going in.”

“At that point in time, the way that it happened and the situation, you don’t have time to get comfortable. It’s a do or die game and you get thrown in there. It’s a 1-0 game and you’re going to have to stand on your head for the guys. It started to really sink in and feel some sort of pressure when they scored their second one on me. It was a soft goal and to give them life.”

MAGIC NUMBER

1

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

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