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Royals Season Ends with 3-2 Loss in South Carolina in Game Seven

Wednesday, April 29th
Royals Season Ends with 3-2 Loss in South Carolina in Game Seven

Teams     Per: 1          2          3

REA:              0          2          0 =2 

SC:                  0          0          3 =3


REA: 3-3-1

SC: 4-3-0


REA: Knapp (loss) 3-3-1 (32/35)

SC: Jakaitis (win) 4-3-0 (21/23)

Power Play:

REA: 0-2

SC: 1-4

North Charleston, SC – The Reading Royals (­­­­­­­­­loss, 3-3-1) 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, 4-3-0), 3-2, at North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston, South Carolina, in the decisive Game Seven of the East Division Semi-Final.

The Royals’ fourteenth season ended on a dramatic third period come-back for the Stingrays. Reading bagged a pair of second period goals to take a 2-0 lead to the final frame; but South Carolina, who came back from a third period deficit in Game Five, as well, were able to ring off three unanswered goals to take the series and advance to the East Division Finals against the Florida Everblades.

After a tightly played first period during which Reading generated only three shots, Reading struck 3:25 into the second period on a career-highlight-reel goal by rookie defenseman Jordan Heywood, who cut down the slot, and burst through a pair of defenders by spinning 360-degrees as he was bearing down on the net. Heywood maintained his balance and pulled the trigger on a high back-hand that went up an over the blocker arm of goaltender Jeff Jakaitis for his fourth of the playoff season.

Reading took a 2-0 lead with just 1:07 left in the second frame when Ryan Cruthers got loose for a quick snap shot from the left hash mark. Jakaitis rejected that bid; but David Marshall was able to gain possession of the rebound and backhand the puck home for his fifth of the playoff season, which extended his playoff point streak to all seven games in the series.

The Stingrays kick-started the come-back with an early goal in the third. Defenseman Drew MacKenzie fired a shot from the left point that goaltender Connor Knapp stopped, but the rebound fell to the top of the crease, where Derek DeBlois had the inside track and was able to slide it under and through Knapp for his second of the playoff series 1:30 into the final frame.

South Carolina tied the game 13:32 into the third on their fourth power play chance of the game. Defenseman Michal Cajkovsky corralled a loose puck deep on the right wall and fired a bullet towards the crease, which forward Joe Devin angled between Knapp’s legs for his fifth of the playoff season.

The Stingrays got what proved to be the game winner three minutes later when a shot from left point by Marcus Perrier buzzed by the Royals’ net on the left side, ricocheted off the end wall and came bouncing back towards the left side of the cage, where Devin was able to take a wild swipe and beat the puck through Knapp from a sharp angle for his sixth of the playoff season.

Reading had their chances down the stretch, particularly in the waning moments with the goaltender pulled; but South Carolina’s goaltender Jeff Jakaitis lived up to his advance billing, making several huge saves with the Reading attack tidal waving all around him to seal off the Stingray net and end the Royals’ season.

End 15 04-29