Three things stuck out about this game, and they clearly fit into...
Royals Take 2-0 Lead in Messy Game Two
Riley Gill recorded his fifth shutout in 17 games with the Royals. Through two playoff matches, he’s stopped 45 of 45 shots. Photo by Taylor Lewis
As if a day had not passed since Game 1, Saturday night began with the same theme: physicality.
“It’s prison rules out there,” said forward Nikitia Kashirsky.
While the Greenville Road Warriors were able to keep the Reading Royals scoreless in the first period, the home team took the second game of the seven-game series, 4-0.
Post-whistle scrums, hits upon hits, bodies flying—no fights. The Road Warriors tried to push about every button on the Royals lineup: Brendan Connolly vs. Brett Flemming, pushing two-game shutout owner Riley Gill into his own net, a Steven Delisle cross check that rattled Ethan Cox.
“It’s a long series. We’ll fix it when it’s gonna be the right time to do it. We’re not gonna do it cheap, but he’s gonna know that what he did was not right,” said captain Yannick Tifu of the Delisle hit.
But as the results show, what mattered was not hits, but goals. The combination of Greenville’s strategy of distraction and goalie Connor Knapp kept the Royals to one goal in Game 1 and scoreless in the first period Saturday night.
Alex Berry had the first goal early in the second period on a power play. But it was Stanislav Galiev’s shot as he streaked into the offensive zone that seemed to shake the Road Warriors.
Berry’s goal was the only on the man advantage for the Royals despite six chances in the game.
“It’d be nice to see our power play click on a couple more,” responded coach Larry Courville when asked where the team can improve. He also mentioned the penalty kill, though the Royals have yet to give up a goal at all in the series.
Gill only faced 13 shots through the first two periods. It was the final 20 minutes that challenged the 28-year-old goaltender most, as Greenville notched 14 to Reading’s nine.
Despite the effort, two quick early tallies—36 seconds apart—from Kashirsky and T.J. Syner gave Reading four unanswered goals. Garrett Bartus took over for Knapp in net to finish the game.
The series goes to Greenville, S.C. Wednesday, April 10 and Thursday, April 11. If necessary, Game 5 will also be played at the BI-LO Center.
The Road Warriors may be without Delisle and Marc-Olivier Vallerand for at least one game. Vallerand left after the Royals first goal and Delisle could face a suspension for the Cox cross check.
The forward, who seemed to suffer only a black mark on his cheek, believes his team will continue to be unfazed by the Road Warriors.
Said Cox, “Nothing of importance really happens once the whistle stops, except for just nonsense.”