Teams Per: 1 2 3
BRM: 0 0 3=3
REA: 1 0 0=1
BRM: Fucale (win, 4-1-0) (40/41)
REA: Dekanich (loss, 2-2-2) (31/33) (1 eng)
Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (loss, 2-2-2) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League, were defeated by the Brampton Beast (win, 4-2-0), 3-1, in Game Six of the Best-of-Seven North Division Semifinals at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania. With the win, Brampton claimed the first round matchup over the Royals four-games-to-two.
Facing elimination, the Royals came out with a vengeance and grabbed a 1-0 first period lead, which felt like it should have been a lot more lopsided in favor of Reading. But Brampton—and particularly goaltender Zach Fucale—were able to keep things tight until the third period, when the Beast would initiate a come-back push, tying the game at one 7:21 into the final frame and getting what proved to be the third period tie-breaking game winner with just 6:22 remaining in regulation. Reading pushed down the stretch looking for the equalizer, but came up empty—even though the team had a late game power play chance, which went for naught. The Beast added a late game empty netter.
The loss served to end the twelfth playoff appearance in the sixteen year history of the Royals, who have been knocked out in the first round five times, including three of the last four seasons since winning the 2013 Kelly Cup Championship.
Reading came out of the gates storming and generated a playoff series high eighteen shots on goal in the first period. Despite the early avalanche of offensive opportunity, the Royals were able to solve Brampton’s Fucale only once—and that came on a perfectly placed snap shot by Justin Crandall, who charged deep into the left circle before ripping a laser over Fucale’s catching glove for Crandall’s first of the playoff season 16:12 into the opening frame
The two teams traded chances in a scoreless second that served to highlight the dominant theme of this playoff series—smart, aggressive, hard-checking, nose-to-nose hockey with spectacular goaltending at both ends, as Reading’s Mark Dekanich matched Fucale save-for-save.
In the third, the Beast turned it up a notch and tied the game at one 7:21 into the final frame after an extended sequence of offensive zone puck possession that sent the Royals’ defense scrambling. The sequence ended when defenseman Willie Corrin ripped a perfect diagonal down wrist-pass from the left point to a wide-open and waiting Luke Pither at the right side of the Royals’ cage. Pither swiped an easy weak-side slam dunk for his first of the series.
Brampton bagged the tied-breaking game winner with just 6:22 left when Brandon Marino took a pass from Chris Auger just as Marino was breaking behind a Reading defender. Marino was able to make a move and take a shot from in tight, but Dekanich made a spectacular sprawling save. Unfortunately for Reading, however, as the rebound slid towards the end line at the left side of the net, Marino was able to recover the puck and chip it up and over Dekanich, who was still prone on the ice in the crease. The puck just did cross over the goal line for Marino’s first of the playoff season.
Reading went into heavy counter-punch mode at that time, but the Beast did a good job of keeping the Royals at bay for the most part. That would include the two-minute power play awarded to Reading for a too-many-men on the ice penalty assessed against Brampton with 3:49 left in regulation.
Marino tacked on an empty netter with 14.1 seconds left; but for all practical purposes this one was really the fifth game—out of the six played—to be resolved by a 2-1 score.
The Royals want to express our sincere thanks for all of the support we received from the community this season, and we look forward to returning for the seventeenth season of pro hockey in Reading next October.
End 17 04-24