Growlers Fall 6-5 in Home Opener to Reading
The Newfoundland Growlers kicked off their 2019-2020 season and their quest to defend the Kelly Cup Friday Night at Mile One Centre, but came up short dropping a 6-5 decision before a crowd of 5,790.
The excitement inside Mile One started before the puck was dropped, as the 2019 Kelly Cup Championship banner was raised to the rafters, and Matt Bradley kept the arena buzzing as he re-directed an Aaron Luchuk shot past Felix Sandstrom just 4:56 into the game to give the Growlers an early 1-0 lead, and to mark the first goal of the 2019-2020 ECHL season.
Zach O'Brien doubled the lead to 2-0 firing a powerplay blast up and over Sandstrom's blocker at 8:02 of the first period, and Riley Woods fired home his first pro goal at 12:39 bringing the lead to 3-0.
Garret Cockerill stopped the bleeding with 4:26 to play in the first period after his point blast went off the crossbar and past Maksim Zhukov for a 3-1 game, and Ralph Cuddemi added another just 1:21 later cutting the Growlers lead to 3-2. Frank DiChiara added a powerplay goal with 45 seconds left in the period, as the Royals scored three unanswered goals in under four minutes, for a 3-3 tie after the opening 20 minutes of play.
Reading took their first lead of the game 3:10 into the first period as Ralph Cuddemi scored his second of the night after capitalizing on a 2-on-1 for a 4-3 score. The lead didn't last long however, as 1:18 later Giorgio Estephan fired a bullet from the slot to tie the game at 4-4.
Brady Ferguson re-stored the Growlers lead at 6:10 of the middle frame, continuing the back-and-forth start to the second period, and pulling the home team ahead 5-4, which held as the score after 40 minutes of play.
The Growlers came out of the gate with good pressure in the third period, but the Royals didn't back down as Brayden Low and Pascal Laberge scored 10 seconds apart near the mid-way mark of the third period to take a 6-5 lead.
Head Coach John Snowden pulled Maksim Zhukov with 1:45 remaining in the game for an extra attacker, and called a timeout to rally his troops with 40 seconds left, but couldn't capitalize on the heavy pressure to fall 6-5.
Zach O'Brien and Michael Kapla were assistant captains
Justin Brazeau, Riley Woods, Colt Conrad, Mac Hollowell and Joseph Duszak all recorded their first pro point
The three stars were 3 - G. Mitchell (REA), 2 - B. Ferguson (NFL) and 1 - R. Cuddemi (REA)
Opening Weekend continues Saturday night against the Reading Royals. Each fan in attendance will receive a replica mini championship banner. Puck drop is 7 p.m. Tickets are available at mileonecentre.com and the Mile One Centre Box Office.
Reading Royals (1-0-0-0) at Newfoundland Growlers (0-1-0-0)
Friday, October 11th - Mile One Centre - St. John's, NL
V-H # Per Team Time Goals Assists Type
0 - 1 1 1st NFL 4:56 M. Bradley (1) A. Luchuk, J. Brazeau
0 - 2 2 1st NFL 8:02 Z. O'Brien (1) M. Power, B. Ferguson PP
0 - 3 3 1st NFL 12:39 R. Woods (1) C. Conrad, G. Estephan
1 - 3 4 1st REA 15:35 G. Cockerill (1) R. Michel, G. Mitchell
2 - 3 5 1st REA 16:56 R. Cuddemi (1) S. Swavely
3 - 3 6 1st REA 19:15 F. DiChiara (1) T. Gooch, S. Swavely PP
4 - 3 7 2nd REA 3:10 R. Cuddemi (2) J. Beaudry, E. Knodel
4 - 4 8 2nd NFL 4:28 G. Estephan (1) M. Hollowell, G. Johnston
4 - 5 9 2nd NFL 6:10 B. Ferguson (1) J. Duszak, Z. O'Brien
5 - 5 10 3rd REA 8:24 B. Low (1) G. Mitchell
6 - 5 11 3rd REA 8:34 P. Laberge (1)
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