The Reading Royals allowed Newfoundland to score its first goal just 14 seconds into the opening period on Tuesday night.
The Growlers did not stop there.
Top-seeded Newfoundland scored five more times on its way to a 6-3 win over second-seeded Reading in Game 3 of the ECHL North Division finals at Santander Arena to take a 3-0 series lead.
“That really didn’t look like our team at all,” Royals coach James Henry said. “We just weren’t good enough.”
Forward Keenan Suthers opened the scoring for the Growlers with his team-leading fifth goal of the postseason.
“That opening shift, 14 seconds into it, just error after error,” Henry said. “It’s disappointing because we talk about being more competitive and being harder to play against, and that’s how we started.”
Reading responded with a goal from forward Max Newton less than two minutes later to tie it. Forward Alec Butcher had the assist.
The Growlers controlled the rest of the game, scoring five straight goals. Newfoundland outshot the Royals 34-19.
“There’s a lot of mistakes that were made up and down the lineup,” Newton said. “Disappointing, for sure, for all of us.”
Defenseman Tommy Miller scored midway through the first to give the Growlers a 2-1 lead. Forward Nolan Walker made it 3-1 with a power-play goal late in the period.
Forwards Tyler Boland, Isaac Johnson and Brandon Kruse all scored in the second period to give Newfoundland a 6-1 lead. Johnson finished with the goal and two assists.
Royals forward Evan Barratt scored a power-play goal midway through the third off assists from Newton and defenseman Garrett McFadden to make it 6-2.
With less than two minutes remaining, Reading forward Brendan Hoffmann scored an unassisted, short-handed goal.
The Royals finished 2-for-3 on the penalty kill and 1-for-6 on the power play.
“We just started getting a little more confidence in ourselves,” Newton said. “The fact that we were able to show a little life in the third period and have a little bit of a push I think is a good sign.”
Goaltender Pat Nagle got the start for Reading but was pulled during the second period after allowing five goals on 19 shots. Kaden Fulcher relieved Nagle and made 14 saves, allowing one goal.
“He was strong,” Henry said about Fulcher. “We did see some positive things from him.”
The Royals will be facing elimination when the two teams face off in Game 4 on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
“We’re not going to give up,” Henry said. “You can’t win multiple games in one night. As cliché as it is, one at a time.”
Source: Berkshire mont
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