Three things stuck out about this game, and they clearly fit into...
Royals Fall to Stockton, Series Slips to 3-1
Stockton’s Olivier Roy narrowly avoids a wipeout in front of his net in Game 1. Tonight, he was not so lucky, departing the game halfway through the first period and not returning to the bench (Photo M. Richter)
Let’s get the unpleasant part out of the way – the Reading Royals are not the 4th team in ECHL history to win the Kelly Cup by sweeping the finals. They fell 4-3 in regulation to the Stockton Thunder tonight.
While the sweep would have been nice, I will admit to not being heartbroken to see the series stretch to five games. If it goes to seven, I’ll re-assess. But I remember when the Caps were swept by Tampa Bay back in 2011, and that’s not a feeling I’d wish on any fanbase.
In the whirlwind of three straight wins to launch the series, it’s easy to forget that the first game against the Thunder was a call-and-response mess that ended 9:42 into OT. Tonight’s back-and-forth was a bit more dragged out (and involved substantial periods of the Royals trailing by two goals), but also resolved with just a single goal between the two teams.
While it’s unlikely that tonight’s game reflects a return to form, it’s important to let context temper the enthusiasm that comes from a 3-0 series lead. Hopefully, it’s the kind of off-night that the Royals will shake off before tomorrow night’s Game Five (their last in Stockton, either way). It’s a skill-set they’ve made good use of throughout this year’s playoffs, so no reason to expect this will be any different.
Goals (Stockton in italics):
- (1) T.J. Syner (from Yannick Tifu & Nikita Kashirsky) @ 7:54.
- (1) Shawn Weller (from Nathan Deck & Harrison Reed) @ 11:05 (PP).
- (1) Eric Hunter (from Shawn Boutin & Ryan Constant) @ 12:15.
- (2) Matt Reber (from Andrew Clark & Maxime Boisclair) @ 11:19.
- (3) Joel Champagne (from Kirk MacDonald) @ 6:01.
- (3) Hunter (unassisted) 7:14.
- (3) Ian O’Connor (from Ethan Cox) @ 13:42.
- Riley Gill was again in net for the Royals, and was one of the only reasons they had a fighting chance to tie things up in the third. He stopped a total of 30 shots out of 34, with 27 of those shots coming in the first two periods.
- Stockton’s Olivier Roy suffered an injury halfway through the first period and was replaced by Tyler Bunz, who secured the Thunder’s win. Roy did not return to the bench for the duration of the game.