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Royals Burned by Flying Komets, 5-1

Thursday, April 24th
Royals Burned by Flying Komets, 5-1

Fort Wayne, IN – The Reading Royals (loss, 1-2-0) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League and the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, were defeated by the Fort Wayne Komets (win, 2-1-0), ­­­­­­­­­­­­5-1, in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana. With the win, the Komets have taken a two-games-to-one lead in the best-of-seven series.

This one was a story of an energized attack from the Komets, defensive zone turnovers by the Royals and spectacular goaltending—really at both of ends of the ice—but particularly by Fort Wayne’s Ben Meisner (win, 2-1-0, 36/37), who has only given up four goals to Reading over the first three games of this series. At the other end of the ice, goaltender Riley Gill (loss, 1-1-0, 40/4, 1 eng) was equally good, but the Royals made several costly miscues in the defensive zone, on which Gill could only do so much.

For the first time in the series, the Komets struck first after a broken play in the Reading zone, which resulted when defenseman Mike Banwell was apparently injured in a heavy collision behind the Royals’ net, created a scramble out if front of Reading’s cage. That flurry ended when Aaron Clarke slipped his first of the season under Gill from the left side of the crease 7:10 into the first after Gill had made a difficult save and Reading could not clear out in front.

Fort Wayne took a two goal lead 6:15 into the second period after a wild sequence of transition rush for both clubs—and golden scoring chances at both ends of the ice. The Royals gained possession in the defensive zone, but coughed one directly into the high slot, where a waiting Dean Oullet gained possession, carried in, deked Gill, and walked around him at the left side of the net for a back-hand stuff. For Oullet, the goal—which proved to be the game winner—was his first of the playoff season.

Reading struck 1:14 later, when Marvin Degon threaded a pass into the right circle to a waiting Sean Wiles, who appeared to mis-fire on the one-knee one-timer, but the change of pace seemed to fool Meisner, who allowed the puck to slip between his legs, cutting the Komets’ lead in half. For Wiles, that was his second of the playoff season.

But that would be it for Reading, as Fort Wayne pulled away in the third, starting 58 seconds into the final frame, when another defensive zone miscue resulted in Clarke gaining possession in the left circle, walking in and around Gill for an easy tap in to rebuild the lead to two (3-1).

The Komets pushed the lead to 4-1 when Brandon Marino was left wide-open and all alone in the mid-slot for a point blank look. Gill made the save on that, but the puck trickled under and through his legs, allowing Chris Auger to step behind the goaltender and tap the puck home for his first of the playoff season 7:40 into the final frame.

From that point forward, the Royals pressed, but couldn’t solve Meisner,  while Brandon Marino added an empty netter late to hand Reading its first loss ever in Fort Wayne.

The Royals and Komets go at it again tomorrow (Friday, April 25, 2014 @ 8:00 pm) in Game Four of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The game night broadcast on Friday will kick off with the Pre-Game Warm-Up Show presented by Highmark Blue Shield at 7:30 pm on CBS Sports Radio 1240 am and 98.5 fm in Reading. As with all Royals road games, Friday’s game will be televised locally in Berks County, Pennsylvania, on BCTV courtesy of Boscov’s Travel and Apple Vacations.

End 14 04-24