April 5, 2013 - ECHL (ECHL) - Greenville Swamp Rabbits
Reading, PA: A stifling Royals defense and solid performance from the Reading netminder Riley Gill, handed the Road Warriors the loss in Game One of the first round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
Reading, the top seed in the conference, showcased their high-powered offense early, outshooting the Road Warriors nine to five in the first period. However a late high-sticking penalty to David Vallorani gave the Road Warriors some offensive momentum of their own. Their top scoring chance came when Brandon Wong fired off a shot from down low that floated just wide of the net. In spite of the handful of chances for both teams, the Road Warriors and Royals would go to the locker rooms scoreless.
Much like the first period, the second began with a flurry of chances for the Royals. Defenseman Brent Flemming skated in unopposed on net and rang a wrist off the post and wide. Reading finally cashed in 12:01 into the period. Nikita Kashirsky was able to capitalize off a Road Warriors turnover, sending a cross-ice feed to Yannick Tifu, the Royals top goal scorer in the regular season, who fired a one-timer past Connor Knapp for the first goal of the game.
The Road Warriors battled hard in third period for the equalizing goal. A power play midway through the period gave the Road Warriors several quality scoring chances. Jordie Johnston nearly capitalized on a quick stuff attempt, but was denied by Gill. The Road Warriors momentum increased after killing off back-to-back penalties to Jeremy Gouchie and Jyri Niemi that gave Reading 1:31 on the two-man advantage. However, a stiff Reading defense held off the Road Warriors attack and secured the 1-0 win for the Royals.
Gill saved all shots 18 he faced for the win. Knapp, in his first professional playoff start, took the loss for the Road Warriors, stopping 25 of 26 shots.
The Drive for the Kelly Cup, presented by Fox Carolina, Rock 101 and 93.3 The Planet, continues tomorrow night in Reading. The Road Warriors return home to the Century BMW Rink at the BI-LO Center for games three and four next Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday night the first 1000 fans will receive a Warriors Rise cowbell. Doors open at 7pm. Game 5, if necessary, will be at the BI-LO Center on Sunday at 4 p.m. For more information on playoff scheduling and ticket packages, visitGreenvilleroadwarriors.com.