The Reading Royals (loss, 0-1-0) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League and the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, were defeated by the Fort Wayne Komets (win, 1-0-0), 2-1, in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania.
Reading scored first, but had limited scoring opportunities throughout the game—and generated only twenty-one shots on goal—as the Komets controlled the flow and created numerous quality chances and, ultimately got the third period tie-breaking game winner with just 8.1 seconds left in regulation, albeit on a disputed play. Goaltender Brandon Anderson was the hard-luck loser (loss, 0-1-0, 37/39) in his first pro playoff game, while Ben Meisner (win, 1-0-0, 20/21) made what few saves he was forced to make down the stretch to pick up the win.
The Royals struck 12:25 in when Sean Wiles carried deep down the left wing side was partially upended as he got to the bottom of the left circle. Wiles was able to thread a pass back up to the low slot, where a charging Josh Brittain got off a hard snap shot as he, too, was falling to the ice. But he got enough of it to force the puck up and over the catching hand of Meisner for his first of the playoff season.
Fort Wayne tied the game 16:47 into the second, while the Royals were playing on one of the team’s three futile power play chances. The puck was cleared by the Komets to Reading’s end wall, where Brandon Marino out-battled a Reading defender for the loose puck and fed it to the low slot, where Mike Embach stepped in and beat Anderson with a low snapper for the short-handed goal.
After a give-and-take third period, time was ticking down and it appeared that the two teams were headed to overtime. However, the Komets created one final (and fruitful) attack off the rush. As the puck slid through the neutral zone headed towards the Royals’ end, it appeared that Fort Wayne forward Shawn Szydlowski took a hand off his stick to wrap up and take down Royals’ defenseman, Mike Banwell, just above the defensive blue-line. Although the Royals—and the faithful at Santander Arena—felt that a penalty should have been called, no infraction was forthcoming; and Szydlowski easily tracked the loose puck down deep in the left circle, settled and ripped the puck high to the short-side on Anderson for the tie-breaking game winner with just 8.1 seconds left in regulation.
The Royals and Komets play Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on Saturday (@ 7:05 pm) at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania.
Courtesy of Reading Royals.