READING, Pa. – The North Division final series between the Reading Royals and Newfoundland Growlers has proven to be a riveting one. From the Royals’ game one 7-3 rout over the Growlers on home ice (a first this season) to the Growlers’ commanding 5-1 victory in an elimination game, the seven-game series has certainly provided the fans plenty of excitement. Saturday’s game six was no exception.
After staving off elimination at home Thursday, the Growlers headed to Reading to do the same thing, this time by a score of 4-2.
As has been the case in every game this series, the eventual winner got on the board first.
The Growlers opened the scoring at 9:07 of the first period. Defenseman Matt Hellickson skated into the Royals’ zone and around the net, then passed to an open Tyler Boland. After hitting the crossbar seconds earlier, Boland made sure he put the puck in the net this time, going five-hole on Reading netminder Pat Nagle.
Four minutes later, the Growlers would score again. Ryan Chyzowski sent defenseman Ben Finkelstein into the Royals’ zone with the puck. Finkelstein got past Reading’s Jackson Cressey to push the puck past Nagle for a 2-0 lead.
It appeared Newfoundland was going to put the game out of reach when they scored again only 23 seconds into the second period. Isaac Johnson passed up the ice to Boland, who was able to get past the Reading defense and past Nagle for his second of the night. The Growlers now led 3-0.
The Royals began their comeback bid in the latter half of the middle frame. Jacob Pritchard skated the puck into the Newfoundland zone before handing it off to Kevin Conley. Conley beat Growlers goaltender Keith Petruzzelli to bring his team to within two.
The Royals continued their comeback with another goal with only 5.7 seconds remaining in the period. Trevor Gooch had the puck along the boards in the neutral zone, then gave it to Cressey. Cressey skated into the offensive zone and passed back to Mason Millman as he entered the zone. Millman passed up to Brad Morrison in the faceoff circle and he was able to fire it past Petruzzelli.
Reading would go into the final period down by only one goal. The Royals were fired up, and so were the fans.
Both goalies made the necessary saves throughout the final frame to keep the score at 3-2 until 18:44 of the third.
With Nagle off the ice for an extra skater, the Royals tried desperately to tie the game and force overtime. Newfoundland’s Gordie Green had other plans, however, as he scored into the empty net for a final score of 4-2.
In an interesting aside, the Growlers have not been outshot in the series thus far. In game one (the 7-3 Reading victory), the teams each had 31 shots on goal. In each game thereafter, the Growlers have outshot the Royals.
The teams next meet Monday for the deciding game seven. The winner will advance to the Eastern Conference Final to face the Florida Everblades, who swept the Jacksonville Icemen in the South Division Final.
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