READING, Pa. – The ECHL’s 2022 playoffs kick off Wednesday night with a matchup between the North Division’s Reading Royals and Maine Mariners. This will be the first postseason series between the two teams.
Maine entered the league for the 2018-19 season, but neither team made the playoffs that year. After a COVID-shortened 2019-20 season and the cancellation of the entire North Division’s season in 2020-21, the Mariners have to be chomping at the bit to show what they are capable of in the postseason.
Meanwhile, the Royals are looking to avenge their last playoff appearance, in which they were swept by the Manchester Monarchs in the first round of the 2018 playoffs.
Final Regular Season Records:
Reading Royals: 45-17-7-2, 99 points (1st in Eastern Conference – 71 games played in regular season)
Maine Mariners: 33-31-5-3, 74 points (9th in Eastern Conference)
Series Schedule (Home team in CAPS and all times local):
Game 1 – Wednesday, April 20 – Maine at READING – 7 pm ET
Game 2 – Friday, April 22 – Maine at READING – 7 pm ET
Game 3 – Thursday, April 28 – Reading at MAINE – 7 pm ET
Game 4 – Friday, April 29 – Reading at MAINE – 7:15 pm ET
Game 5 (if necessary) – Saturday, April 30 – Reading at MAINE – 6 pm ET
Game 6 (if necessary) – Monday, May 2 – Maine at READING – 7 pm ET
Game 7 (if necessary) – Wednesday, May 4 – Maine at READING – 7 pm ET
Season Series Recap:
Reading and Maine faced off only six times during the 2021-22 season. The teams split the series with three wins apiece, with the Mariners slightly outscoring the Royals 17-15.
Maine’s Cameron Askew (four goals, one assist), Nick Master (three goals, three assists), and Pascal Laberge (two goals, four assists) all had some success against Reading in the regular-season series.
Patrick Bajkov (two goals, four assists) and Trevor Gooch (four goals, one assist) led the way for the Royals.
How Reading Wins:
Reading has been on a tear since early December and ended the regular season on a hot streak, going 8-1-1-0 in April. If they continue on that streak while utilizing their top point-producers (Bajkov and Gooch), the Royals should be able to take the series easily.
The team has a ton of confidence heading into the postseason, but they can’t get too cocky with Maine. The regular-season series was a draw, and the final game was a 6-2 victory for the Mariners. If the Royals rein in that confidence a bit and play smart hockey, they will not only take the series, but they will be a strong contender for the Kelly Cup.
How Maine Wins:
Maine had to fight hard to get into the playoffs, trailing the Worcester Railers for the final playoff spot and finishing the season with six games against the division’s toughest opponents (Reading and Newfoundland Growlers). The Mariners fought their way back into playoff contention with a decisive 6-2 win over the Royals and a 2-1 overtime win over the Growlers. Maine finally clinched that final playoff spot with a 4-3 shootout victory over Newfoundland in their final game of the regular season. If the Mariners keep that fighting spirit alive, they will give the Royals a run for their money.
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