Caps goalies Braden Holtby, foreground, and Justin Peters. (Caps Outsider) The Washington Capitals...
Royals Renew Caps/Bears-Affiliation, Advance to Second Round of Playoffs
(Image courtesy of the Reading Royals Hockey Club)
It’s been a day of victories for the Reading Royals. First, they renewed their affiliation with the Washington Capitals and Hershey Bears for the 2013-14 season. Then, eight hours later, they closed out their series against the Greenville Road Warriors with a 5-0 shutout victory, moving onto the Conference Semifinals with a 4-1 record.
One Step at a Time:
As with much of their playoff success so far, the team’s fourth shutout was a group effort. Goaltender Mark Owuya had his third straight start, blocking 19 of 19 shots for his second shutout of the post-season (Riley Gill had the first two, but has been sidelined since Game Two with an undisclosed injury). In addition, the five goals tallied in the final outing against Greenville were scored by five different skaters:
- 1st Period – 17:12 Stanislav Galiev (Mark Mitera, Yannick Tifu) – Game Winner, Power Play Goal
- 2nd Period – 0:23 Brett Flemming (T.J. Syner, Dustin Stevenson)
- 2nd Period – 4:40 Yannick Tifu (Galiev, Nikita Kashirsky)
- 2nd Period – 12:43 Ethan Cox (Flemming, Kirk MacDonald)
- 3rd Period – 7:48 Barry Almeida
Looking Ahead (This Season)
As the top seed in the East, the Royals will face one of two teams – either the Elmira Jackals or Florida Everblades, whichever team wins their current series. Currently, the Everblades lead 3-2, and all ECHL first round schedules are slated to conclude by Wednesday, April 17. The Royals play their first home game of the next series on Friday, April 19, at 7:05 EDT.
Looking Ahead (Next Season)
The decision to renew the affiliation between the Caps & the Royals is a reflection of the benefit of convenience. 2012-13 was a record-setting season for the Royals, and having Hershey just an hour’s drive away can’t have hurt their performance. The ease of travel meant that players from the Bears could be sent down for extra leg-work in Reading, picking up a game or two when the schedule and rosters permitted.
The only grumble to emerge this season regarding the affiliation was due to the decision to send goaltender Sergey Kostenko up to play with the Ontario Reign mid-season. While it’s impossible to predict the future, shortly after that assignment the goalie situation in Reading went from stable to stressed when Drew MacIntyre was called up permanently to the Toronto Marlies and Brandon Anderson suffered an ankle injury. Fingers crossed, such a situation won’t be a recurring theme for the relationship between the organizations.
Bears on the Road
The Hershey Bears gained their first road victory since embarking on their 6-game road trip today, defeating the Portland Pirates 6-3, and notching 5 power-play goals while they were at it. Philipp Grubauer had the win, and Joey Crabb had a hat trick as well as the game-winner.
The Bears currently sit at tenth in the Eastern Conference, two points out of a playoff berth at the moment. They have a game in-hand over the current 8-seed, but so do the 9th place Manchester Monarchs. The last few playoff slots will likely come down to the close of the regular season next weekend. The Bears play just one more game at the Giant Centre in the regular season, and that will be next Sunday against the Monarchs (or Sparkle Cats, if you’d prefer).