TOLEDO, OH – In Reading’s first trip of the year to Toledo, the Royals struck first and held two separate two-goal leads but needed a late-game tie-breaking game winner from Cam Reid to take Game One of the first round series. The Royals got four goals from four guys—including Austin Farley, playing in his first game for the team—two of which came on the power play to make a 21 save effort by Martin Ouellette stand up for the win in his first pro playoff appearance.
Reading appeared to break through 4:44 into the first when Brandon Alderson slipped a cross-ice pass out of the right corner that was angled into the net off the skate of Justin Crandall; but that effort was waived off when it was ruled the Crandall, who came charging up the weak side, used a ‘distinct kicking motion’ to re-direct the puck home.
Undaunted, the Royals broke through for good 9:09 into the first just twenty-seven seconds into the first power play chance of the game. As the Walleye penalty killers swarmed to the right side of the ice, the puck slid free towards the left point, where Maxim Lamarche alertly slipped a quick-up back-hand pass to Kevin Sundher, who was wide open and all alone in the low left slot, where he settle and drilled a bullet high short side on Lerg for his first of the playoff season.
Reading took the team’s first two-goal lead 12:43 into the first when Jesper Pettersson ripped a hard-low one-time slap shot from the right point that Lerg rejected with his right pad. But the rebound fell to the blue paint, where Farley sniffed out the loose puck and stuffed it home for his first as a pro in his first game with the Royals.
Toledo cut the lead in half with 4:48 remaining in the period when A.J. Jenks carried into the offensive zone and drew the attention of Reading’s defenders as he cut down the right wing wall and spun 360 degrees to protect the puck. Jenks then slipped a perfect pass to the mid-slot where Evan Rankin came slicing through to beat his man, pick up the puck on the fly, cut right down the slot, and lay-down a perfect back-hand, fore-hand slam dunk for his first of the playoff season.
But the Royals regained the two goal advantage with the team’s second power play goal of the game with just 3.7 seconds left in the first period. After Nikita Kashirsky won an offensive zone face-off, Kevin Goumas took control, carried towards the right wing wall, and slipped a perfect pass out of the deep right corner to a waiting Alderson, who was set up just above the right hash-mark, for a hot one-time bullet that buzzed over the extended right arm of Lerg for his first of the playoff season.
The Walleye began their come-back effort 12:35 into the second period with a power play goal on their second chance with the man advantage. Beau Schmitz fired a shot from the right point that went in and out of the catching glove of Ouellette and landed at the top of the crease where a scramble ensued and the puck popped free to Tylor Spink, who was set in the low left slot for a quick short-side snapper up and over the right shoulder of Ouellette to make it 3-2.
Toledo tied it 3:49 into the third—two seconds after their third chance with the man advantage expired—directly after it appeared that Reading had a clear chance to clear the zone; however, Schmitz kept the puck inside the zone, albeit directly on the blue line, and fed Tylor Spink, who in turn tapped off a pass to the mid-slot where Kyle Bonis was wide open and all alone for a whistling rocket over the right shoulder of Ouellette.
But the Royals bounced back seventeen seconds after the conclusion of the team’s fourth power play chance of the night. Once again, it appeared that the penalty killing team—this time Toledo—had a chance to clear the zone, but as the puck slid in the low slot, Kevin Sundher made a second effort diving belly-flop to poke the puck towards Cam Reid, who was planted in the low right circle. Reid settled just long enough to launch the heavy artillery high to the short side on Lerg for his first of the playoffs—and what proved to be the third period tie-breaking GWG.
Toledo pressed hard down the stretch but the Royals and Ouellette held on to take the opening salvo in the best-of-seven series. Same two teams in game two, tonight at Huntington Center.