READING, PA – With their season on the line, the Reading Royals needed a win to keep the season going on Monday night. The Brampton Beast, namely Zach Fucale, had other ideas and backstopped the Beast to the North Division Finals against either Adirondack or Manchester later this week.
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 snapshot 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.
It took the Beast a few minutes in the final period to find their legs but they stormed out to tie the game at the 7:21 mark. After swarming Dekanich with a flurry of shots, Luke Pither was in the right place at the right time to locate a loose puck backdoor on Dekanich and tuck in his first goal of the postseason and tied the game at 1.
That energy was growing on the Beast bench and erupted again in the latter half of the final period. The Beast were peppering Dekanich with a barrage of pucks and while the netminder did his best to fight them off, Brandon Marino would not be denied as he stuffed in the third rebound after several big chances in front, giving the Beast their first lead of the game with 6:22 left in the game.
The Royals threw everything they had at the Beast goal in the dying minutes but simply could not beat Fucale.
Marino sealed the series victory with an empty-netter from just inside the blue line on the right wing side with 15 seconds left.
The Beast now wait for their opponent in the North Division Finals, either the Adirondack Thunder or Manchester Monarchs. The series will start later this week.