Reading, PA- Ryan Penny (2g) scored in the final three minutes to tie, Michael Huntebrinker tallied the shootout-winning goal and the Reading Royals overcame a three-goal deficit to clinch a berth in the 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs, 5-4, Friday over the Manchester Monarchs at Santander Arena. It is the ninth straight season the Royals have secured a playoff spot. Huntebrinker scored his third shootout-winning goal of the season, faking with his right shoulder and finishing with a tuck in at the left post during the top of the first round.
John Muse (win, 33 saves) denied all three Monarchs in the shootout. He has won consecutive starts since returning to the Royals from Lehigh Valley (AHL).
Reading is up to 82 points, one behind Adirondack for second in the North Division. The Thunder and Royals face off Saturday at 7:00 p.m.
The Royals scored three straight in the second to tie the game at three. Penny, Chris McCarthy and Matt Willows scored. Willows has 30 goals this season, the sixth Royals player to hit that single-season milestone. The third-year professional also knocked home his 200th professional point with the tying strike. Reading allowed three strikes in the first period. Charles Williams (SOL, 25 saves) suffered his second shootout loss of the season series to the Royals.
The Monarchs started the scoring with a quick tally at 3:44 of the opening frame by Michael Doherty, slamming home a rebound assisted by Jayce Hawryluk and David Kolomatis. Jordan Lavallee-Smotherman (12:52) and Kevin Morris (16:53) tallied in the final half of the frame to extend the edge to 3-0 Manchester after one. Shots favored the Monarchs, 14-8, in the first.
Reading pounced with consecutive goals in 17 seconds early in the second to cut the deficit to 3-2. Standing at the right circle, Nick Neville slung it to Penny at the left post and the winger jammed in the puck at 3:26 of the period. Adam Schmidt recorded the secondary assist.
Off the ensuing face-off and 17 seconds later, the center McCarthy gained steam on a 2-on-2 rush, crossed the center blue line and ripped a 50-footer to the top right shelf and in. Matias Cleland dished the puck up the middle to McCarthy and had the primary assist. A fourth-year professional from Collegeville, PA, McCarthy has a single-season high 21 goals this campaign. Matt Wilkins registered the secondary assist.
McCarthy assisted the tying goal with 2:36 to go in the second. Driving the left post, he momentarily delayed and fed Willows. He tucked it in at the right doorstep. Wilkins again had the secondary helper.
Manchester's Alexx Privatera smacked a one-timed slap shot from the top of the right circle, assisted by Hawryluk and Rob Hamilton, with 10:20 to go, providing Manchester a 4-3 advantage.
The Royals pulled for the extra skater with about 2:30 to go and tied seconds later. Huntebrinker cradled and whirled it to the front of cage. With Williams searching for it, Penny nicked it in at the left doorstep. Cleland (2a) registered the secondary assist. Penny has three multi-goal games this campaign.
Manchester outshot the Royals in overtime, 4-1.
Muse denied Ashton Rome, Hawryluk and Spencer Watson in the shootout. Huntebrinker scored the skills competition’s only tally.
2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs DatesWhen the Royals’ dates in the 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs are set, be the first to know by signing up here!
Postgame autograph session, Wed., Apr. 4 vs. WOR at 7:00 p.m.Check out a postgame autograph session with four players, presented by Rieck’s Printing. It’s the final game of the season series between Reading and Worcester and the Royals lead the series, 7-5-1-0.
Tickets are available here.FANdemonium, prizes at every whistle and last home game of regular season, Sat., Apr. 7 vs. NOR at 7:00 p.m.We are giving away Royals prizes at EVERY WHISTLE! Plus, the first 2,500 fans receive a Royals rally towel, courtesy of Tower Health. Tickets are available here.
Season ticket holders: stick around after the game for a chance to win a game-used Royals jersey with “Jerseys off our Back” promotion. You must be present to win.
2018-19 season tickets now availableTop full-season benefits include: exclusive Reading Hockey Club per seat gift, discounted rate off regular ticket prices, ticket exchange, preseason meet and greet, exclusive season ticket holder events, advanced entry and a chance to win and the Royals Owner’s Suite for a game. Call 610-898-7825 and visit to join the Royals family or renew season tickets for the 2018-19 season. Visit royalshockey.com/tickets/season-tickets to learn more.
About the RoyalsThe Royals have been owned by serial entrepreneur Jack Gulati since 2014 and are in their 17th ECHL season. Proudly affiliated with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers and AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Reading plays in the Santander Arena, located in downtown Reading, PA at 700 Penn Street. The Royals won the Kelly Cup in 2013, have made the playoffs in eight straight seasons and are four-time division champions.
Broadcast CoverageAll Royals game can be heard on Rumba 1340 AM and the iHeartRadio app by searching “Rumba 1340”. The pregame show starts 15 minutes before puck drop. Watch Royals games on ECHL.tv. Reading away games are shown locally on BCTV, channel 15 Comcast, channel 19 Service Electric.