WHEELING, WV – Playing their first game in the month of May in three years, the Reading Royals entered Monday night’s game two in Wheeling looking to even the score in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series. Entering the game, the Wheeling Nailers locked in their roster for the rest of the playoffs with the addition of forward Derek Army, who was sent down from Texas of the AHL after they were eliminated in the Calder Cup playoffs.
Reading struck 14:06 into the first when the Royals, who fell victim to a bad bounce off the glass in Game One of the series last Friday night, got a bounce in their favor. Yannick Tifu, who was playing in his 100th career pro playoff game, and Justin Crandall conspired to dig a puck out of the left corner in the offensive zone. As the puck rimmed up the wall, it hit a suspect joint in the boards and ricocheted towards the top of the right circle, where Kevin Goumas took a swipe that resulted in a change-of-pace knuckler that dipped under the catching glove of goaltender Brian Foster and just caught the right corner of the Wheeling net for Goumas’ fourth of the playoff season.
Wheeling took back the lead with a pair in the second. The first came 3:54 into the period when Army, who was just added to the Wheeling roster today, took a snap shot from the mid-slot that buzzed wide of the Royals’ net but ricocheted off the end wall and directly back towards the left side of the Royals’ net where Matt Tabrum stepped up and tapped the puck between the legs of goaltender Adam Morrison. For Tabrum, that was his first of the playoff season.
The Nailers took a 2-1 lead 10:57 into the second with a five-on-three power play goal. Back-to-back penalties to Reading’s Cam Reid and Scott Tanski gave the Nailers a 1:14 two-man advantage 10:08 into the period. They only needed 49 seconds before Clark Seymour threaded a seeing eye wrister from just inside the blue line that floated by Morrison, who was well-screened, and found the low right corner for Seymour’s first of the playoff season.
Reading tied things at two on the team’s fourth power play chance of the night 8:12 into the second period, when Maxim Lamarche settled in the high slot and fired a hot snapper towards the Wheeling net. Crandall, who was cutting in front of the Nailer cage, got just enough of the puck to deflect it behind Foster for his second of the playoff season.
Almost two minutes later, Reading got what proved to be the game winner, when a misplay at the right point by a Nailer defender turned into a two-on-one rush for the Royals led by Goumas, who carried into the offensive zone down the left wing side before sending a cross-slot saucer that landed flat for the hard-charging Brandon Alderson, who buried his team-leading seventh of the playoff season—and what proved to be his second game winner.
Reading got a little insurance 13:40 into the final frame, when Nikita Kashirsky battled his way to a loose puck below the goal line and fed it back up into the mid-slot where Ian Watters, who had just stepped onto the ice, found a soft seam for a hot bullet that buzzed by Foster low on the stick side for his second of the playoff season.
From that point forward, the Royals were able to hold the Nailers at bay and win for the fourth time in seven tries in the team’s playoff history (4-3) at WesBanco Arena.
This marked the first come-from-behind win of the post-season for the Royals, who trailed 2-1 entering the final frame but came up with three goals in a span of 5:28 to win for the fourth time in this post-season on the road. This game continued a couple of trends for the Royals, including winning all five games in this playoff season in which the team has scored first, as well as an unusual streak of alternating a win with a loss with a win for the last sixteen consecutive post-season games.
The series now moves to Reading for games 3-5 beginning Wednesday night at Santander Arena.
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