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Reading and Cincinnati Battling for ECHL East Crown

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Posted: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 1:37 pm

The Eastern Conference Championship.

That’s what is at stake right now for the Royals. Things have played out true to form with the one and two seeds from the regular season now meeting for the Eastern Conference crown. Oh, and by the way — getting to play the Western Conference winner for the Kelly Cup.

But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Cincinnati is a worthy opponent, who has been here before. Even though the Royals are up two games to none, both games have been closely contested and could have gone either way in the overtime periods.

The Cincinnati assessment of Reading is interesting. It is apparent they want to shut down Reading’s top line of Yannick Tifu, Nikita Kashirsky, and Evan Barlow. By playing physical, staying aggressive and hoping the Royals are worn down after a seven game series they’re looking to get this line to play undisciplined and uncommitted. It is clear they want to get in the Royals heads and get them to be shying away from body contact.

Reading is likewise trying to shut down their top line of David Pacan, Mike Embach and Josh Shalla. It’s clear that hits by the likes of Cox and Stevenson are getting under the Cyclones’ skin. If both sides are successful in these efforts, we’ll have low scoring games with possibly more overtime periods in this series.

It’s also a reasonable conclusion that the Cyclones have decided that a big part of their game has to be to pressure defensemen with forechecking. They hope to rattle and fluster our back liners into mishandling pucks and making defensive zone turnovers; an excellent source of quality scoring chances.

Personally, I hope the ‘clones keep disrespecting Reading’s d-men. If they keep their composure and recognize and make the play that’s given to them, good chances will result. The forwards have to be a part of this as well, providing targets for breakouts that are based on what’s available. It is tough to argue with four goals from defensemen in the past two games. The Backline Boys, fresh out of college, are a big part of success here.

Looking at the Cincinnati fan comments in their media, they are clamoring for Brian Foster in goal. Houser’s record, 5-3-2 in the last 10 games, isn’t too spectacular. With a GAA of 2.95 and a SV% of 89.0, we wouldn’t be surprising to see Foster in goal sometime soon.

The two referee system seems to be working. I think the muggings that go on behind the play are out now. Certainly, the number of calls thus far in this series indicate the refs are committed to a clean game. This is good for more skilled hockey players and bad for goons and enforcers. I’m glad to see it.

Special note: Kudos to Homestead Suites for recognizing Riley Gill as the ECHL Goalie of the Month on their marquee. It’s great to get community support like this.

The Affiliates and Callups:

The AHL Hershey Bears are in a battle with the number one seed Providence Bruins. The five game series is tied at two apiece with game five coming on Wednesday in Providence. If Hershey wins, Phil Grubauer and Pat Wellar move on to the next round. If they lose, Grubauer would be sent to the Capitals as insurance for their playoff run. Wellar would be eligible to join the Royals, as he is on the playoff roster. Depth on defense might be a vulnerability going forward.

Drew McIntyre is back with the Toronto Marlies after spending some rare AHL playoff down time with the Maple Leafs. The Marlies wrapped up their first round series in three games on Wednesday, May 1st and will start their series against the Grand Rapids Griffins starting this Friday, May 10.

The significance of this is more than following a Reading goalie who couldn’t find an AHL job at the beginning of the year and is now getting NHL callups. Mark Owuya’s status with Reading hangs on what is happening with the Marlies and the Maple Leafs. As well as Riley Gill has been playing, a backup goalie is still a need on the roster. Owuya certainly proved valuable against Greenville with two shut-outs to close out that series.

Adam Comrie is with the NHL San Jose Sharks, after the AHL Worchester Sharks closed out their season. Denny Urban, who was with him in Worchester, is also done for the season.

Dave Marshall was with the AHL Charlotte Checkers, who were eliminated in the first round of AHL playoffs last Saturday. Marshall’s grit and talent would have been welcome on the Royals’ roster but things just didn’t work timing-wise.

The Washington Capitals are in a real dogfight with the New York Rangers in the Quarterfinal round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Caps held serve at home, but lost Monday night at Madison Square Garden. They lead the series 2-1. They play again on Wednesday, May 8 making it an affiliation trifecta: Washington at New York, Hershey at Providence, and our own Reading Royals at Cincinnati.You can catch the Royals game on BCTV.

Berks Community Television can be seen on Comcast-Reading Channel 2, Comcast-Southern Berks Channel 965, and Service Electric Cablevision Channel 19/digital 85-5503.

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1 comment:

  • Leafs34Fan posted at 8:18 am on Wed, May 8, 2013.

    Leafs34Fan Posts: 24

    I agree, it's going to be an interesting series for sure. The 1st two games in Reading have already proven it with the double OT game in Game 1 and the OT game in Game 2. Both games were nailbiters and raised my anxiety level considerably. I'm sure we're in for more of the same starting tonight when the series opens on Cyclone home ice at the U.S. Bank Arena. Let's hope the Royals skill (and luck) continues in Cincinnati and hope of all hopes, we can successfully conclude the series on the road to give the team some time to recuperate from the 7-game semi-finals series before starting the arduous task of the Kelly Cup Finals. Like Lin, forgive me for getting ahead of myself, but I can't help it. This is R-team and this is R-year! Let's Go Royals! Bleedpurple!

    Now regarding the Goaltending/Marlies situation; I think Mark Owuya will be staying with the Royals. The Marlies currently are carrying three goalies on their Calder Cup Playoff roster with the addition of Leafs prospect Garret Sparks (selected 190th overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft). As Lin mentioned, former Royals Goalie Drew MacIntyre is on the roster, as well as Jussi Rynnas (who also spent time in Reading when the Leafs/Marlies were our affiliates). Unless injuries annihilate the Leafs and Marlies goaltending ranks (God forbid), I think Mark will finish the season with the Royals. Unfortunately for whatever reason, he's been the odd man out in Toronto. There's one thing I noticed with the "new" Toronto organizarion, if a player doesn't fit into a certain "mold" (e.g.: Nonis/Carlyle style) longevity with the organization is secondary, you're sent down, traded, etc. It's ashame for a talent like Owuya who left an elite team in Sweeden to come across the pond to play North American hockey. I was hoping he would share the same success as former Royals James Reimer and Ben Scrivens (the current Maple Leafs goaltending tandem). Not sure he will get that opportunity. I know I'm naive when it comes to the "business of hockey", but I'm a loyal fan who thinks everyone who comes through the Sovereign Center deserves a shot!


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