Royals Take Game Three Over K-Wings, 5-2
Reading, PA- The Reading Royals of the ECHL (2-1), affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League and the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League, defeated the Kalamazoo Wings (1-2), 5-2, in Game Three of the American Conference Quarter Final Series at Sovereign Center in Reading, Pennsylvania. The Royals scored 2:01 into the game and held a 3-0 first period lead and had to hold off a strong second period charge from the K-Wings to take Game Three of the best-of-five series. For the second game in a row, goaltender Matt Dalton (win, 2-1; 42/44) earned one of the game's stars with clutch play in difficult moments. Kalamazoo's Ryan Nie (no decision; 2/4; 5:39) started but was replaced after the Royals second goal 5:39 into the game. Riley Gill (loss, 0-1, 32/34, 53:19) came on in substitution and had to make a number of big stops in the flurries that the Royals were able to generate-particularly right after he took over from Nie. The Royals scored what proved to be the game winner late in the first period while playing with the man advantage (1-3). The K-Wings got a power play goal to cut the Royals lead to one in the second period (1-2).
Reading struck 2:01 into the game when Jimmy Fraser took control on the left wall in the offensive zone and fired a cross-ice pass to the right side of the K-Wings' net, where a waiting Yannick Riendeau deflected the puck by Nie for his second of the playoff season. The Royals extended their lead to two when Olivier Labelle worked the puck to the left point where Scott Langdon fired a low, hard shot towards the net. Ryan Cruthers, who was planted at the left side of the net, redirected the puck behind Nie for his third of the playoff season 5:39 into the game. Reading got what proved to be the game winner while playing with the man advantage at the 14:50 mark of the first. Aaron Brocklehurst fed Daniel Steiner for a shot from just above the hash-marks in the slot. Steiner's shot deflected off a body directly into the right circle and directly onto the stick of Stefano Giliati, who roofed a quick one-time snap shot for his second of the playoff season.
Kalamazoo started their climb back in at the nine minute mark of the second with their second short-handed goal of the playoff series. Trent Daavetilla forced a turnover at the K-Wings' defensive blue line and then tracked the puck down behind the Royals net. The strong fore-check forced the puck free at the left side of the goal, where Andrew Fournier got off a quick shot back-hand that Dalton stopped. The rebound fell to the right side of the crease, where Daavetilla had taken a perfect position and drove it home for his second of the playoff season. The Wings then made it a one-goal game (3-2) with a power play goal from Dean Strong. Patrick Asselin took control in the right corner and worked his way behind the Royals' goal before slipping a pass to the top of the crease to Strong, whose quick shot beat Dalton for his first of the playoff season.
Things tightened up from that point forward, but the Royals got a little breathing room with Giliati's second of the game 9:52 into the final period. Brocklehurst stepped up for a strong keep at the right point and was able to get off a low, hard shot on net. Gill made the stop, but the rebound slid to the top of the crease, where Giliati took control and drove it under the prone goaltender for his third of the playoff season. The K-Wings charged hard down the stretch, but the Royals and Dalton held them off; and Marc Cavosie bagged an empty netter with 18.6 seconds left to allow the fans in the Sovereign Center to take a deep breath.
The Royals and K-Wings return to the Sovereign Center for Game Four of the American Conference Quarter-Final Series on Friday (Sunday, April 11 @ 7:05 pm). The Royals game night broadcast on the Royals Radio Network presented by Transmissions by Arbogast will begin at 6:35 pm.
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