Teams Per: 1 2 3 OT
REA: 1 1 1 0=3
WHL: 0 2 1 1=4
Overall Playoff Record
REA: Ouellette (OTL) 4-2-2 (51/55)
WHL: Foster (Win) 6-3-0 (33/36)
Wheeling, WV – The Reading Royals (loss, 7-5-2) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League, were defeated in overtime by the Wheeling Nailers (win, 8-5-0) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League, 4-3, in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Semifinal best-of-seven playoff series at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling, West Virginia. With the win the Nailers advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals where they will face the South Carolina Stingrays.
In what proved to be the final game of the Fifteenth Anniversary season for the Royals, Reading struck first and built a 2-0 lead before the Nailers charged back with three straight, including a third period power play goal to take a one-goal advantage late into regulation. However, Yannick Tifu and his Royal teammates had other ideas, bagging a game-tying goal with just 1:50 left in regulation to send the decisive Game Seven to overtime. Reading had their chances in the extra frame, but the story-book ending was not to be as Riley Brace dug a puck out of a pile in a late scramble around the Royals net and ended the game with just 37.1 seconds left in the OT.
Reading struck first 18:16 into the opening frame when Adam Comrie uncorked a bullet from the top of the left circle that buzzed by the extended catching glove of goaltender Brian Foster for Comrie’s first of the playoff season.
The Royals took a 2-0 lead 6:49 into the second when Austin Farley stepped out of the penalty box and ten seconds later was the recipient of a brilliant cross-crease feed from Kevin Goumas that Farley, who was planted at the right side of the crease, redirected over the left pad of Foster for his second of the playoff season.
Wheeling cut the lead in half 11:26 into the second when the Royals were caught in the midst of a wholesale line change. Goaltender Foster snared the Royals’ dump in out of mid-air, quickly settled the puck to his stick and fired a long stretch pass to Jordan Kwas, who carried into Reading’s end and fired a shot from the wide right side as the Royals’ were trying to get back into defensive position. The shot slid across the body of goaltender Martin Ouellette and just caught the left side of the net for Kwas’ third of the playoffs.
The Nailers tied the game at two 17:37 into the second frame when Shane Bakker got his own rebound of a shot from deep on the right side, chipping the puck from a sharp angle over the left pad of Ouellette, which was jammed into the right pipe and fluttered into the cage for Bakker’s fourth of the playoff season.
Wheeling took their first lead 9:13 into the third on their fifth power play chance of the night, which came when Maxim Lamarche was called for a delay of game after chipping the puck out of play from the defensive zone. It appeared that the Royals’ were going to successfully kill the power play but with just seven seconds left in the PP, Derek Army snuck a shot from the left circle through the legs from Ouellette out of the right circle for Army’s second of the playoff season.
Reading got another miracle from Yannick Tifu to extend the game into overtime. With the goaltender pulled and the sixth attacker on the ice, Reading pressed hard and tied the game when Jesper Petterson made a play at the right point to avoid pressure and fired the puck towards Austin Farley who was able to settle it off deep on the left side where Yannick Tifu was waiting for a sharp angle snapper that flew behind Foster and caught the far corner of the net for Tifu’s second of the playoff season—and his team career leading sixteenth post-season goal as a Royal—with just 1:50 remaining in regulation.
There were ample opportunities for both teams to end things in overtime. Farley may have had the best for the Royals on what appeared to be an open chance for a punch back into an open net from the low slot early in the extra time. But it was a mad scramble late in the OT session that proved decisive. A shot by defenseman Brett Stern was blocked in front of the Royals’ net by Todd Perry and it seemed that everyone lost sight of the puck; however, the whistle did not blow and with Ouellette on his back in the crease and a mad onslaught of players still battling in front of him, Riley Brace dug the puck from under the pile and slipped it into the open side of the net to end the Royals’ season.
Eastern Conference Semifinal Best-of-Seven Series
Friday, April 29 – @ Wheeling Nailers 4- Royals 1 Wheeling Leads Series 1-0
Monday, May 2 - @ Wheeling Royals 4 – Nailers 2 Series Tied 1-1
Wednesday, May 4 @ Reading Royals 4 – Nailers 1 Reading Leads Series 2-1
Thursday, May 5 @ Reading Nailers 2 – Reading 1 (3OT) Series Tied 2-2
Saturday, May 7 @ Reading Royals 3 – Nailers 1 Reading Leads Series 3-2
Monday, May 9 @ Wheeling Nailers 8 – Royals 3 Series Tied 3-3
Wednesday, May 11 @ Wheeling Nailers 4 – Royals 3 (OT) Wheeling Wins Series 4-3
End 16 05-11