Reading’s season came to an end on Monday night.
The Royals were eliminated from the Kelly Cup playoffs by Newfoundland, which won 4-2 in Game 7 of the ECHL North Division finals at Santander Arena to win the series 4-3.
“They worked really hard tonight,” Reading coach Kirk MacDonald said about his players. “They competed.”
The Royals lost three straight after taking a 3-1 series, and allowed the first goal in the first period in each one. On Monday, Newfoundland took a 1-0 lead late in the first with a short-handed goal from forward Derian Plouffe.
“The first goal in these Game 7s is so crucial,” MacDonald said. “We didn’t get it.”
The Growlers added to their lead midway through the second period when defenseman Noel Hoefenmayer scored from just inside the blue line to make it 2-0. Hoefenmayer finished the game with one goal and one assist.
Reading got on the board less than two minutes later with a goal from forward Patrick Bajkov, who located a loose puck just outside the crease and scored from close range to make it 2-1. The goal was the product of an aggressive offensive push from the Royals, which led to a scrum in front of the net.
“We were able to get pucks and bodies to the net at that point,” Bajkov said. “I was lucky enough to be able to find that puck and put it in.”
Newfoundland responded less than two minutes later with a goal from defenseman Ben Finkelstein, who scored from the point to make it 3-1. The goal was Finkelstein’s second in as many games.
Reading did not go away quietly, however, as forward Brad Morrison scored less than two minutes later to cut the Growlers’ lead to 3-2 just before the second intermission. The goal was Morrison’s second in the last two games.
“Right when I jumped out onto the ice I went toward the net and I noticed that I had a clear-cut breakaway,” Morrison said. “I made the move and thankfully (the goalie) bit on it and I had the open net to put it in.”
The productive second period appeared to energize the Royals, who had little momentum in the first. Despite being held to just six shots, Reading scored twice in the span of seven minutes to get back in contention.
“We were pretty juiced going into the third period,” Morrison said. “We were pretty pumped after the second.”
The Royals were unable to carry their momentum into the third, as Newfoundland was stout on both ends of the ice. The Growlers added to their lead midway through the period when forward Isaac Johnson scored an insurance goal to make it 4-2.
“We just couldn’t generate anything in the third (period),” MacDonald said. “(Newfoundland) did a good job defending.”
The Growlers played suffocating defense throughout the entire game, holding Reading to a series-low 16 shots on goal. The Royals went 0-for-2 on the power play.
“They did a good job getting sticks in the (shooting) lanes,” MacDonald said about Newfoundland. “Credit to them.”
Source: Berkshire mont