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2022 Kelly Cup Playoffs

Growlers Dethrone Royals in Game Seven

Growlers Dethrone Royals in Game Seven

READING, Pa. – As expected, the top two teams in the Eastern Conference needed seven games to decide a winner.  The Reading Royals and Newfoundland Growlers faced off Monday in the final game of the North Division series, and some history was made as the result.

Game seven unfolded exactly as could be anticipated, with Newfoundland outshooting Reading and with the game’s first goal predicting the outcome.

As has been the case this entire series, the team that scored first was the eventual victor.  For the third game in a row, that was Newfoundland.

With Growlers forward Tyler Boland in the penalty box for a hooking call, teammates Jeremy McKenna and Derian Plouffe found a prime scoring opportunity on a 2-on-1.  Once in the offensive zone, McKenna passed across the ice to Plouffe, who beat goaltender Pat Nagle for the 1-0 lead late in the first period.

Almost halfway through the second period, the Growlers extended their lead on a goal that Nagle would like to have back.  Orrin Centazzo passed to Noel Hoefenmayer at the blue line.  Hoefenmayer’s shot deflected off Nagle’s stick and into the net for the 2-0 lead.

As they say, a two-goal lead is the most dangerous.  Less than 90 seconds after Newfoundland’s second goal, Reading was able to cut the lead in half.  Patrick Bajkov passed to Kevin Conley, whose shot from the faceoff circle was stopped by Growlers netminder Keith Petruzzelli.  The rebound was hacked at by both Trevor Gooch and Garrett Cecere, but it was Bajkov who ended up with the puck on his stick.  He had swept in to grab the loose puck, then skated around the crowd in front of the net and beat Petruzzelli for the Royals’ first goal of the night.

Four minutes later, the Growlers regained their two-goal lead.  Newfoundland’s Marc Johnstone won an offensive zone faceoff against Reading’s Brayden Low, and the puck went straight back to Ben Finkelstein at the blue line.  Finkelstein fired the puck past Nagle for another dangerous two-goal lead.

It only took 2:40 for the Royals to answer back.  Nagle passed the puck all the way up the ice to Jacob Pritchard waiting just outside the Growlers’ zone.  Pritchard held up to pass to Brad Morrison, who was just coming off the bench and had no one around him.  Morrison skated toward the net on a breakaway. Petruzzelli went down anticipating a shot, but Morrison was more patient and held the puck until he could lift it over the sprawled Petruzzelli.

The Royals went into the final period needing only one goal to tie the game.  The Growlers had other plans, however.  A little over halfway through the final frame, Newfoundland would regain their two-goal lead, but this time they would keep it.

Centazzo and linemate Isaac Johnson entered the offensive zone on a 2-on-1.  Centazzo passed to Johnson, who lifted the puck over Nagle’s glove for a score of 4-2.

That score would hold up the remainder of the game, and the Growlers would take the series 4-3.

Interesting Series Facts

  • In each game of the series, the team who scored the first goal went on to win.
  • The Growlers were never outshot during the series.  In game one, the two teams evened up their shot totals at 31 apiece.  After that, the Growlers outshot the Royals in every game.
  • Petruzzelli has started every game for Newfoundland this postseason.  With Evan Cormier with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose during their playoff run, it left the Growlers with two rookies to carry the load in the postseason, Petruzzelli and Rylan Parenteau.  Petruzzelli was the more experienced of the two, so he has gotten the nod in all 14 playoff games.  Cormier was listed on Newfoundland’s playoff eligible list, and with Manitoba now eliminated, the Growlers may get some help in net.

History Is Made

  • The Growlers became the eighth team in ECHL history to win a series after trailing 3-1.
  • They became only the second team to do so with games six and seven played on the road.

On to the Next

The Newfoundland Growlers advance to the Eastern Conference Final to take on the Florida Everblades.  That best-of-seven series will begin in St. John’s Friday.

Download the Field Pass Hockey app from the iTunes or Google Play stores or follow @FieldPassHockey on Twitter for the latest news on the AHL, ECHL, and SPHL throughout the 2023 season!

    Carrie Roberts covers the Adirondack Thunder for Field Pass Hockey. Follow and interact with her on Twitter @FPHAdkThunder.

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