The Sin Bin’s Kelly Cup Playoff coverage is brought to you by Kalwei Law Firm
The Reading Royals dropped Game 1 of their opening round playoff series to the South Carolina Stingrays by a final score of 2-1. Both teams came out of the gates playing really well, even without much action on the scoresheet. The Royals got themselves into a little bit of trouble in the opening frame, taking a couple of penalties, but were bailed out by an effective penalty kill.
After thwarting the Stingray powerplay in the first, an early second period penalty to Andrew Johnston (who just returned from Lehigh Valley) would set South Carolina up on their third man-advantage opportunity of the game. Andrew Rowe fed Joe Devin perfectly on a 2 on 1, and there wasn’t much that Royals netminder Connor Knapp could do. Reading would bounce back nicely when Maxim Lamarche buried his first career playoff goal in his first playoff game after being left off of Elmira’s postseason roster last season.
The 1-1 score would hold through the rest of regulation, despite numerous chances for both sides. The goalie show continued throughout the first overtime period, as Knapp and ECHL MVP and Goalie of the Year Jeff Jakaitis traded terrific save after terrific save. As heavy legs started to kick in during the second overtime period, the chances start to mount for each team. Brett Flemming would take an ill-advised hooking penalty, and just seconds later Stingrays forward Frankie Simonelli would net the game-winner on the powerplay to give South Carolina the early series lead.
Game 2 is Saturday night in South Carolina, and the Royals will have to play much more disciplined as South Carolina has proven to make them pay for any mistake that is made. Knapp played very well in Game 1, definitely well enough to win, but the costly mistakes has dug Reading an early hole.