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Royals Fall in Game Three to South Carolina, 5-2

Thursday, April 23rd
Royals Fall in Game Three to South Carolina, 5-2

Teams     Per: 1          2          3

SC:                  0          3          2 =5

REA:              1          1          0 =2 


SC: 2-1-0

REA: 1-1-1


SC: Jakaitis (win) 2-1-0 (25/27)

REA: Knapp (loss) 1-1-1 (22/26) (1 eng) (58:34)

Power Play:

SC: 1-4

REA: 0-3

Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (­­­­­­­­­loss, 1-1-1) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the American Hockey League, were defeated by the South Carolina Stingrays (win, 2-1-0), 5-2, at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania. With the win, the Stingrays have taken a two-games-to-one lead in the best-of-seven East Division Semi-Final playoff series with Game Four to be played in Reading on Saturday.

Reading struck early, but the Royals were unable to hold off a second period surge from the Stingrays, who capitalized on a couple of careless turnovers by the Royals and then scored their third power play goal of the series, which proved to be the game winner. Reading came up with a late second period short-handed goal to draw within one; but the Stingrays stymied the Royals in the final frame and added a third-period dagger to re-take the home-ice advantage with the road victory in Game Three.

Reading hit pay dirt 2:40 into the contest a rebound opportunity after a shot from the right point off the stick of defenseman Mike Marcou, who drilled one from just inside the offensive blue line wide on the right side. Ryan Cruthers got a chunk of the puck on the way in, forcing goaltender Jeff Jakaitis to make a difficult save. However, Jakaitis could not handle the rebound, and David Marshall proceeded to win a puck battle at the top of the crease and swipe the puck under and through Jakaitis to give Reading the 1-0 lead.

Reading held that lead through the remainder of the first period thanks in no small part to several big saves by goaltender Connor Knapp most notably, perhaps, in the waning moments of the period on a back-door slam-dunk opportunity for Derek DebBlois on a cross-crease feed from Rob Ricci.

As they’ve done now in all three games in this series, the Stingrays came storming in the second and racked up three straight goals. The first came 4:20 into the second frame on a costly turnover at defensive blue line by the Royals that allowed Andrew Rowe to pick off the puck, carry it into the offensive zone, cut into the right circle and drill a bullet over the catching glove of goaltender Connor Knapp.

The Stingrays took their first lead of the game 11:53 into the second on another turnover—this one on a missed breakout pass from the defensive zone that was picked off by South Carolina’s Michal Cajkovsky at the defensive blue line. Cajkovsky weaved his way up ice to a spot just inside the Royals’ defensive blue line and uncorked a bullet--again high glove side on Knapp to make it 2-1 South Carolina.

1:27 after that, the Stingrays stretched the lead to two at 3-1 on their third power play goal of the series (3 for 14) on their second power play chance of the game. Both penalty killing defenders for Reading got caught chasing the puck behind the Royals’ goal, allowing Caleb Herbert was able to slip a pass from behind the net to a wide-open Sean Dolan, who was planted at the right side of the Royals’ net for a quick snap shot power play goal.

2:09 after that, the Royals turned South Carolina’s next power play chance into a goal of their own, when Pat Mullane thwarted a play in the defensive zone, skated onto a loose puck in the neutral zone and carried up ice and down the left wing side on a two-on-one short-handed rush with David Marshall. Mullane was able to thread a diagonal-down cross-ice pass to the hard charging Marshall who ripped a bullet behind Jakaitis from the weak side for his second of the game with 4:31 remaining in the second frame.

The Royals had their chances in the third, including 1:33 of four-on-three power play mid-way into the period. However, the Stingrays stuck a dagger in the Royals’ comeback hopes 11:47 into the third, when Herbert was able to slip a pass from deep on the left side to the mid-slot where Wayne Simpson took control of a puck that appeared to lie on edge flat on his blade. Simpson, who was dead in the mid-slot, then pull-snapped a hard shot back-against the grain high on the blocker side on Knapp for his first of the playoff season to make it 4-2, South Carolina.

The Stingrays added an empty netter with 1:07 left; but that point the damage had already been done, as the Royals just could not generate the quality or quantity of opportunities to mount a credible comeback on the Stingrays.


Game Four of First Round East Division Best-of-Seven Semi-Final Playoff Series

Reading Royals v South Carolina Stingrays

@ Santander Arena – Reading, Pennsylvania

Saturday, April 25, 2015 (7:00 pm Eastern Time)

NEXT UP: The Royals and Stingrays face-off in Game Four of the East Division Semi-Final on Saturday (April 25 @7:00 pm) at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania. The game night broadcast for Saturday’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.

End 15 04-23