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2022 Kelly Cup Playoffs

Royals Win in St. John’s, Gain Series Lead

Royals Win in St. John’s, Gain Series Lead

ST. JOHN’S, NL – The Reading Royals and Newfoundland Growlers faced off in game three of their North Division final series Tuesday.  After beginning the series with two games in Reading, the teams traveled north of the border into St. John’s.

The teams had split the games in Reading, with the Royals turning an early lead into a 7-3 rout in game one, and the Growlers recovering the following night with a 4-1 victory.

Game three began similarly to game one–with a Royals goal less than three minutes in.

Brennan Saulnier passed to Brayden Low from behind the net.  Low was positioned in front of Newfoundland’s net and fired the puck past netminder Keith Petruzzelli at the 2:38 mark.

Later in the first, Thomas Ebbing, fresh out of the penalty box after serving a hooking minor, picked up a loose puck and skated into the Newfoundland zone.  Ebbing’s pass from the faceoff circle found Trevor Gooch, who redirected the pass to Mason Millman in the opposite circle.  Millman beat Petruzzelli glove side for the 2-0 lead.

It’s unfortunate the number of assists is limited to two. Jackson Cressey is actually the one who initiated the play and deserves honorable mention.  Cressey had originally cleared the Reading zone, leaving the puck free for Ebbing to pick up.

The score remained 2-0 until early in the third period, despite some good chances on both sides during the second.

The Growlers finally got on the board 47 seconds into the final frame.  Noel Hoefenmayer started the play when he passed the puck back to Ben Finkelstein at the blue line.  Finkelstein passed back to Hoefenmayer, who put a shot on Reading goaltender Pat Nagle.  Nagle made the save, but Jeremy McKenna picked up the rebound and fired it home, cutting the Royals lead to 2-1.

The Growlers put up a fight the remainder of the game, peppering Nagle with 17 shots in the third period.  With 45 seconds remaining and Newfoundland on the penalty kill with Orrin Centazzo in the box for slashing, Petruzzelli was pulled for an extra attacker.

It only took 22 seconds for the Royals to end the Growlers’ hopes for a comeback.  Dominic Cormier passed to a wide-open Ebbing, who skated into the Newfoundland zone on a partial breakaway.  Ebbing was able to get past a sprawling Hoefenmayer for the empty net goal and a 3-1 lead.

With only 23 seconds remaining, the game was realistically out of reach for the Growlers, and the game ended in a 3-1 Reading victory.

The Royals can credit their goaltender Nagle for the win Tuesday.  He had to stand on his head at times while the Growlers bombarded him with quality shots.  The score could have easily gone in the Growlers’ favor if any of those shots had gotten past Nagle.  By the end of the game, Newfoundland had outshot Reading 34-25, and the Royals netminder had made 33 saves.

Reading now leads the series 2-1.

The two teams will face off twice more at Mary Brown’s Centre in St. John’s Wednesday and Thursday.  If the Growlers win either of those games, the series will shift back to Reading for game six Saturday, May 14th and, if needed, game seven Monday, May 16th.  If Reading wins both games in St. John’s, the Growlers’ season will be over and the Royals will advance to the Eastern Conference finals.

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

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