ECHL: Reading Royals clinch Kelly Cup with dominant win in Game 5

This article can be found published on the The Mercury‘s website.
The Reading Royals defeated the Stockton Thunder, 6-0, in Game 5 of the Kelly Cup Finals Saturday night to clinch the ECHL championship. (Candice Monhollan)

The Reading Royals defeated the Stockton Thunder, 6-0, in Game 5 of the Kelly Cup Finals Saturday night to clinch the ECHL championship. (Candice Monhollan)

STOCKTON, Calif. – There have been 24 previous champions in ECHL history, but there haven’t been teams quite like the Reading Royals, who became the 2013 Kelly Cup champions after a 6-0 drubbing of the Stockton Thunder Saturday night.

The team, who started the season of with a terrible 1-5-0-1 record, turned things around and went on a remarkable and record-breaking run to the coveted Kelly Cup.

It took a few minutes for Royals captain Yannick Tifu to find the words to describe the feeling of the moment.

“Starting 1-5, I knew right there that we had something special,” Tifu said. “It was just a feeling… It’s been a journey (and) it’s been a long run, but I’m happy at the end.”

… [Please continue the story on The Mercury website by clicking here.]

Tifu, in his seventh season in the ECHL, finally won the Cup he has been craving for ever since he played for it with the Dayton Bombers in 2006 and now feels he has helped turned people’s opinion on him.

He finished the postseason leading the team and league in points (25) and goals (12), giving him the best playoff numbers of his career.

“I wanted to turn the image of people saying, ‘Tifu is good in the regular season, but never won nothing,’” he said. “Today, I changed the minds of a lot of people. I thank everybody in this dressing room because they helped me accomplish it.”

Tifu wasn’t the only one on the team with something to prove by winning the Cup.

Goaltender Riley Gill put on a spectacular postseason run, in which he had 13 of the 16 Royals wins, but it wasn’t an easy road to get him there.

He started the year getting traded from the Kalamazoo Wings to the Utah Grizzlies and just before the season started, was released and had to find a playing time in the SPHL until the Royals came calling.

“I didn’t even get traded from Utah this year,” Gill said. “I just got straight up released, so it feels great to prove those guys wrong. I bet they’re kicking themselves right now and it feels great.”

His stellar postseason numbers of 1.91 goals-against average and .930 save percentage, along with his four shutouts, earned him the honor of winning the title of Kelly Cup Playoffs MVP.

“I was just trying to win the game tonight,” Gill said. “(Winning the award) is just a cherry on top of an incredible season for me. I couldn’t be happier with my teammates and myself. I’m just blessed and happy to be here right now.”

Gill’s excellence in goal in the finale, where he stopped all 29 shots he faced, was matched by the Royals’ entire lineup. Reading used a dominant four-goal second period to take firm hold of the clincher, getting goals from Brett Flemming, Ian O’Connor, T.J. Syner, Stanislav Galiev after Mark Mitera opened the scoring late in the first period. Joel Champagne capped it in the third period, assisted by Galiev and Syner, his second helper of the game.

Something the Royals had over the Thunder was the experience of the Kelly Cup Finals.

Though the Royals had never reached this stage before, several on the team played for the Kelly Cup before and three already have their name engraved on it, including Patrick Wellar, who already won it twice before and has a Calder Cup to his name as well.

“There’s nothing to describe the feeling we have now because I’ve been lucky enough in my career – three times before – to have this moment,” Wellar said. “The bond that we have will carry on forever… Down the road, this is something we’ll look back on with a lot of pride.”

Wearing a smile just like his players, head coach Larry Courville is another one who will fondly remember the season – even the beginning where the Kelly Cup couldn’t look any further away.

“It was scary,” he said, recalling the 1-5 start. “People were calling for my job… After the fifth loss, (the players) came together and had a pretty good meeting and from there on, it was a tremendous season… To win the whole thing in the end is definitely rewarding. I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life.”


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Subscribe & Connect

Subscribe to Candice's RSS feed and connect to her social profiles to receive updates.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: