Reading Royals at Stockton Thunder: Kelly Cup Finals Game 5

STOCKTON, Calif.

T.J. Syner has been on a hot streak of late, scoring four goals in the last five games. (Candice Monhollan)

T.J. Syner has been on a hot streak of late, scoring four goals in the last five games. (Candice Monhollan)

PRE-GAME NOTES

No one truly expected the Stockton Thunder to completely roll over and die, so it comes as no surprise that when their backs were against the wall Friday night, they came out ready to fight.

Reading Royals forward Ethan Cox commented after the 4-3 loss that they just didn’t match their intensity and energy at the beginning of the game.

What’s good for the Royals is how they ended Game 4.

They were able to twice make it a one-goal game and came just inches from tying it up with seconds left on the clock. They took back control of the game in the third period and played the way everyone is used to seeing them play.

Because of that finish, you can expect to see it translate over to tonight’s game where they should come out with more jump in the legs.

A big note very worth mentioning is an X-factor to which the Thunder have not seen.

What is it?

More like who is it.

Stanislav Galiev makes his return to the lineup after suffering an injury back in the Conference Semifinals against the Florida Everblades.

Galiev is a very skilled player and puck-handler and the Thunder will have a tough time trying to defend him. He will also provide some help at the point on the power play for the Royals, which we all know can use any help it can get.

As much as I’m sure the fans would like to see the Cup won on home ice, I believe the Royals can’t let that happen. If the Thunder force a Game 6 back in Reading, you can bet they will be carrying all the momentum and life, something the Royals don’t want to happen.

Instead, the Royals are hoping to close things out tonight and bring the Kelly Cup home tonight with their 3-1 series lead.

Thirteen of the 24 Finals series (54.2-percent) have ended in Game 5.

Maybe the Royals will add one more to that number.

STARTING GOALTENDERS

Riley Gill is back in the net once again for the Royals, to no one’s surprise. I’d expect to see a big game out of him. Usually when he gives up more than three goals in a game, he comes back huge the next one.

Tyler Bunz is in net for the Thunder after Olivier Roy took a hard hit last night and had to leave the game.

GAME TIME

This time around, the Royals came out playing they way they should have last night.

No jitters, no nerves, no butterflies.

Hunger for the Cup.

It was an exciting period for any hockey fan. It was high-speed and featured some close chances for both sides, but Gill and Bunz were making all the saves necessary.

It wasn’t until 2:55 left in the first period when the first goal was scored.

Mark Mitera took an innocent shot from the left point and the puck bounced along the ice and under Bunz for a 1-0 Royals lead. It was a goal I’m sure Bunz wants back.

The Royals took the 1-0 lead into the first intermission and the shots were even at 11.

Brett Flemming extended the lead to 2-0 at 2:49 of the second. He looked like he was going to take the puck around behind the net, but cut to the front and muscled it past Bunz.

On the first power play of the night – which went to the Thunder – T.J. Syner fed the puck up to Ian O’Connor. He sped in on a breakaway and beat Bunz to silence the crowd and give the Royals a 3-0 lead at 6:28 of the second.

Syner scored his fifth in six games at 13:43 on an open net to put the game out of reach.

Galiev, who I mentioned would be a big boost on the power play, scored on the man-advantage from the right point at 15:10 of the second to put the Royals up 5-0.

The Royals played the perfect third period by just protecting the lead and keeping the Thunder in their own end by dumping the puck and making them chase after it.

Joel Champagne twisted the dagger in the Thunder’s heart at 16:25 to make it 6-0, which is how the game ended.

POSTGAME NOTES

The Royals won their first Kelly Cup in franchise history.

Gill secured his fourth shutout of the postseason and received Playoff MVP honors.

PRESS ROOM

Quotes will be in a separate piece.

MAGIC NUMBER

0

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

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