May 1, 2013
Reading, PA– The Reading Royals of the ECHL, affiliate of the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League and the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, advanced to the ECHL Eastern Conference Finals with a hard fought 4-1 win over the Florida Everblades Wednesday, May 1 at the Sovereign Center in Reading, PA. This is the first Game Seven win in the history of the Royals, who have played in three Game Sevens in the twelve year history of the team. The Royals will open the best of seven Eastern Conference Finals against the Cincinnati Cyclones, starting this Friday, May 3, 2013 @ 7:05 pm at the Sovereign Center.
Reading struck first 3:54 into the second period on the team’s second power play chance of the game. Brock Shelgren took control at right point and worked it down the wall to Barry Almeida, who slid a pass to Joel Champagne deep below the goal line on the right side. Champagne threw the puck back up into the crease where it struck the stick of goaltender Jesse Deckert (loss, 7-4-1) and slid through Deckert’s legs and into the net. Reading stretched the lead to 2-0 11:47 into the second when Kirk MacDonald carried hard down the right side of ice and cut by a Florida defender into the low slot in Florida’s end. McDonald attempted to slide the puck cross-crease to Barry Almeida, but an Everblade blocked that pass—but it went directly to Champagne, who fired from in tight. Deckert rejected that shot, but Almeida pounced on the rebound and buried his fourth of the playoff season.
The most important sequence of the game—and series—may have come 12:02 into the third period, when the Royals’ Ian O’Connor was called for a hooking minor. The Everblades then successfully challenged the size of the blade of the stick of goaltender Riley Gill (win, 5-2-0, 24/25), giving the number one power play in ECHL playoffs a full two minutes of five-on-three; but the Royals (and particularly Gill) held strong during the kill. And 1:07 after that sequence ended, the Royals extended the lead to 3-0 when O’Connor finished on a two-on-one with T.J. Syner. MacDonald buried a weak-side rocket on a beautiful cross-ice feed from Evan Barlow on a late game power play to give the Royals a 4-0 lead with 4:17 remaining. Florida broke up Gill’s shutout bid with a power play goal at 18:02 by Brandon MacLean, but that proved too little, too late.
The Royals now advance to the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Finals where the team will face the Cincinnati Cyclones on Friday, May 3 @7:05 pm, at the Sovereign Center in Reading, Pennsylvania. Royals’ playoff ticket information is available at 610-898-7825 and through the Royals website: www.royalshockey.com.