READING, Pa. – The ninth and final meeting of the regular season between the Reading Royals and Brampton Beast would prove to be an emotional one for the home crowd.
Before the game, the Royals inducted fan-favorite Yannick Tifu into the team’s wall-of-honor. Tifu would become the 14th different Royals personal to be inducted. Also before the game, the team raised his #10 to the Santander Arena rafters. Tifu is only the second Royal to have his number retired joining Larry Courville whose #22 was retired back in October of 2011.
During his time in Reading, Tifu appeared in 245 games and put up 222 points (84 goals, 138 assists), which is third highest in franchise history. Tifu also spent some time with the Royals opponent, the Brampton Beast. He only played in five games with the Beast during the 15-16 season and put up two points one goal and one assist before being dealt back to the Royals in late October. During his time with the Beast, Tifu recorded his 500th career point.
The future ECHL Hall-of-Famer has played in a total of 526 regular season games and put up 542 points (180 goals, 362 points) with eight different teams. In the Kelly Cup Playoffs, Tifu played in 86 games and tallied 68 points (28 goals, 40 assists).
Along with Tifu’s number being retired, the Kelly Cup made a return to Reading. The Royals have only one Kelly Cup in the teams’ franchise history back in 2013 when the Royals took down the Stockton Thunder in five games. Yannick was the Royals captain that season.
Anthony Stolarz got the start in net for Kirk MacDonald’s squad on Saturday night. Stolarz was in net on Wednesday for the first time in over 11 months. In that stint, he made 30 saves on 35 Fort Wayne shots. As for Beast head coach Colin Chaulk (who coached Tifu when he was in Brampton), Chris Driedger was between the pipes.
It didn’t take the Beast long to solve Stolarz as on the team’s third shot of the game David Vallorani (who was teammates with Tifu during the Royals’ cup year) from the left circle gave Brampton the early lead on his 10th of the season. Erik Bradford picked up his second assist as a member of the Beast and 32nd of the season Brampton’s only lamplighter of the night.
After that, it was all Reading as 47 seconds later the momentum shifted to Reading thanks to Matt Wilkins‘s 16th of the season. Wilkins is quietly on a hot-streak as he has put up points in the last five games for the Royals. Chris McCarthy and Matias Cleland with the helpers. The tie wouldn’t last more than two minutes as Brian Morgan (in his first game back in the lineup since last Thursday) picked up his eighth goal of the season which came off a beautiful pass by Viktor Liljegren right in front of the Brampton net and over the shoulder of Beast netminder Driedger. As the opening frame was winding down, the Royals would look to double their lead and Adam Schmidt would make sure that would happen as he picked up his first goal of the night on a breakaway. Nolan Zajac would pick up his second assist of the night and 26th of the season.
Near the midway point of the game, the Royals would go up 3-1 when McCarthy buried his 18th of the season. In the games final minute, while on the penalty kill, Adam Schmidt would deliver the dagger. While players on the Beast side were seeing their playoff window closing slowly, Vincent Dunn and Stefan Fournier decided to let out from frustration on the Royals. Last week, Fournier did something similar to the Royals in the final minute of the game as he threw an unnecessary punch at Cleland after the whistle was blown by one of the officials. Following the scrum Dunn, Fournier and Wilkins were all given 10-minute misconducts.
When the final horn sounded, the Reading Royals would score five unanswered goals and defeat the Brampton Beast tonight by the score of 5-1. The win would improve the Royals record to 34-21-8 good for 76 points in the standings. The win kept the Royals in breathing room of Adirondack and Manchester for the top two spots in the North Division as they are three points the Thunder and five behind the Monarchs respectively.
Stolarz rebounded nicely tonight as he made 31 saves on 32 shots and picked up his first win since March 26th, 2017. Following the game, Stolarz packed up his gear and will be returning to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
As for the Royals, they will be back in action Wednesday night as they will be at the SNHU Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire to take on the first place Manchester Monarchs. Puck drop is at 7:00 EST.