Teams Per: 1 2 3
REA: 3 0 1 =4
SC: 0 2 0 =2
REA: Knapp (win) 1-0-1 (33/35)
SC: Jakaitis (loss) 1-1-0 (16/20) (58:05)
North Charleston, SC – The Reading Royals (win, 1-0-1) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the American Hockey League, defeated the South Carolina Stingrays (loss, 1-1-0), 4-2, at North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston, South Carolina, to take Game Two of the best-of-seven East Division Semi-Final season and even the series at one game apiece.
After playing late into the night in the double-OT battle between the two teams on Friday, the Royals came out with the better jump in the early going, building a 3-0 first period lead on a pair of goals by first year defenseman Jordan Heywood and one by Brandon Alderson. But in the second, the Stingrays found their legs and pinned the Royals ears back with an energized attack that resulted in a pair of goals to draw within one as the two teams headed to the third. In the final frame, Reading picked up an insurance goal from the team’s all-time career playoff point leader, Ryan Cruthers, and then held on down the stretch to notch the playoff win.
Reading struck 8:14 into the first off the rush. Andrew Johnston carried with speed down the right wing side and slipped a perfectly timed pass to the top of the crease where a hard-charging Jordan Heywood redirected the puck up and over goaltender Jeff Jakaitis for his first pro playoff goal.
The Royals took a 2-0 lead 11:22 into the first on a bullet from the high slot by Brandon Alderson, who gained possession deep on the left wing side, circled his way up high back to the blue line and cut towards the middle of the ice where he uncorked a hot rivet that eluded Jakaitis high to the glove side for his first pro playoff goal.
Reading stretched the first period lead to three with Heywood’s second of the game. Adam Hughesman settled for a clean look off the top of the left circle. He drilled a low bullet along the ice across the body of Jakaitis, who kicked out the left pad to make the save. The puck, however, ricocheted towards the right wing wall, where Heywood had stepped up to catch and release the rebound into an open space in the net on the short side as Jakaitis was unable to recover to make the second stop.
South Carolina came out storming in the second, outshooting the Royals 12-2. After having a goal waived for incidental contact with the goaltender 4:12 into the period, the Stingrays struck for a pair to draw within one at the second intermission. Both goals came after turnovers by Reading in the defensive zone; and both came on multi-shot opportunities after scrambles around the Royals’ net.
On the first a failed clear by the Royals at right point resulted in a steal and a diagonal down pass by defenseman Drew McKenzie to a wide open and all alone Brandon Wong, who went forehand-backhand before trying to stuff the puck on the goal line; but goaltender Connor Knapp sprawled out for a brilliant save. The rebound kicked to the low slot where Sean Dolan chipped it up and over Knapp’s left pad for his first of the playoff season 6:36 into the second.
The second came on a similar play but this time, after the strong South Carolina forecheck prevented the Royals from clearing the zone, the puck ended up pin-balling between the hashmarks out in front of the Royals’ goal and it was Joe Devin who snapped off a quick shot the snuck through a pile of bodies in front of Reading’s net and through the legs of Knapp for his second of the playoff season.
Reading got some early insurance in the third when Heywood tracked the puck deep into the right wing corner of the offensive zone. David Marshall picked up the right point, and when South Carolina attempted to clear the puck out of their defensive end, Marshall kept the puck in the offensive zone and fired a shot towards the net, which Pat Mullane deflected forcing Jakaitis to make a right pad save. The rebound kicked to the left side of the net, where Ryan Crutehrs stepped in for a quick shot that went off Jakaitis and into the net for his first of the playoff season—and fourteenth playoff goal in thirty-one career playoff games with the Royals.
From that point forward, South Carolina continued their push; but the Royals held strong to win the team’s first playoff game since Game Two of the 2014 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Fort Wayne Komets.
NEXT UP FOR THE ROYALS
Game Three of First Round East Division Best-of-Seven Semi-Final Playoff Series
Reading Royals v South Carolina Stingrays
@ Santander Arena – Reading, Pennsylvania
Thursday, April 23, 2015 (7:00 pm Eastern Time)
NEXT UP: The Royals and Stingrays face-off in Game Three of the East Division Semi-Final on Thursday (April 23 (@7:05 pm) at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania. The game night broadcast for Thursday’s playoff matchup can be heard live on CBS SportsRadio 1240 am and 98.5 in Reading, Pennsylvania, starting with the pre-game warm-up show presented by Highmark Blue Shield at 6:30 pm Eastern Time. Streaming audio is available free of charge on the Royals’ website (follow the ‘headset’ icon); and streaming video is available on a pay-per-view basis through ECHL.TV.
For more information about the Royals, call 610-898-7825 or log onto www.royalshockey.com.
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