Reading, PA– The Reading Royals, affiliate of the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League and the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, lost Game One of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Semi-Final series against the Florida Everblades, 4-3, at Sovereign Center in Reading, Pennsylvania. The Everblades combined solid offense with excellent goalkeeping from Jesse Deckert, who stopped 34 of Reading’s 37 shots to take a one game to none series lead.
Florida struck first 13:55 into the game on a back-hand by A.J. Jenks, who stole the puck at the offensive blue line, cut down the slot and fired back against the grain, on the high stick side against Royals’ goaltender Riley Gill (loss, 2-1-0, 14/18). Florida made it a two goal lead with only 12.2 seconds left in the first period, when Reading got beat back down ice on a transition rush. Brayden Irwin found Adam Brace coming down the slot for a low shot that snuck passed Gill.
Reading bounced back to tie with back-to-back goals early in the second period. Stanislav Galiev got the first goal when he buried the rebound of a Yannick Tifu shot eight seconds into the period. Tifu scored the second point when he banked one off the back of Jesse Deckert (win, 5-2-0, 34/37) from below the goal line while the Royals were on the power play 4:34 into the second period. Reading squandered a minute of a five-on-three power play and but the Everblades would capitalize on a delayed penalty 9:58 into the second to retake a lead they would never relinquish. With a six attackers on the ice, Mathieu Roy scored on a deflection against Gill.
Florida took advantage of their own five-on-three power play chance to stretch the lead back to two (at 4-2) 5:28 into the third. After a scramble around Reading’s net, Matthew Pistilli settled and ripped with Gill down and out of position. Reading drew within one when Tifu took a pass from Galiev on a two-on-one break for his second of the game, his sixth of the playoff season, with 6:26 left in regulation. A late charge with six attackers and an empty net fell short and the Royals lost for the first time on home ice in this playoff season.
The Royals and Everblades play Game Two of the best of seven Eastern Conference Semi-Finals Saturday, April 20 @7:05 pm at Sovereign Center in Reading, Pennsylvania. More information is available at 610-898-7825 and through the Royals website.