The Reading Royals were determined to stay in the Lowcountry another day.
Cam Reid and Adam Comrie each scored two goals and Connor Knapp stopped 18 shots to lead Reading past South Carolina, 6-1, Tuesday night in Game 6 of their ECHL Eastern Division semifinal series before a crowd of 2,069 at the North Charleston Coliseum.
With the best-of-seven series tied at 3-3, a decisive Game 7 will take place at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday at the North Charleston Coliseum.
After a scoreless first period, the Stingrays actually grabbed a 1-0 lead on Joe Devin’s goal less than 90 seconds into the second period.
It would be short-lived celebration for the Stingrays as the Royals would score on their very next shift, just 48 seconds later, to tie the game at 1-1.
That would quickly be followed by back-to-back goals from Reid and Andrew Johnston in less than three minutes as Reading would seize control of the game and grab a 3-1 lead midway through the second period. By the end of the second period, the Royals would finish with five goal and lead 5-1 going into the second intermission.
By then, the Stingrays were already thinking about Game 7.
“I don’t know that we’ve scored five goals in a period all season,” said Reading coach Larry Courville. ‘It was the response we wanted. It was the response we needed. We had our backs against the wall, we were down 1-0 in the game, down 3-2 in the series. I just like the way we decided that we were not going home today. I hope we have the same mentality (Wednesday).”
The difference in the game was the Royals’ power play. Reading was just two of 18 on the power play during the series headed into Game 6. The Royals recorded four power play goals against the Stingrays, which had the best penalty kill unit in the ECHL during the regular season. The four power play goals were the most the Stingrays have given up in a single game all season.
“Finally our power play got together and was able to produce for us,” Courville said. “We made a couple of adjustments before the game, mixed up our lineup a little bit and that gave us two lines that could move the puck pretty well. Up until this game we hadn’t done very much on the power play.”
South Carolina coach Spencer Carbery said the game was decided in those decisive few minutes in the second period.
“We get a goal and then the wheels just fell off the bus for us,” Carbery said. “We got hemmed in our own zone and all of a sudden they score twice and get a third goal on the power play and they’re up 3-1. I’ve never seen a stretch like that from this team. The good news is that a stretch like that is so out of the norm for this team that hopefully we don’t do it again.”
It was a nightmare for Stingrays captain Andrew Rowe. Rowe said the Stingrays relaxed after Devin’s goal early in the second period.
“I don’t know, maybe we got a little too high, a little too confident after Joe’s goal,” Rowe said. “We sat back and focused too much on playing defense. After that it was just a total letdown. It was a nightmare to watch that stretch in the second period.”
Rowe said the Stingrays will have to regroup quickly from Game 6 and get ready for Game 7 in less than 24 hours.
“It’s seven-game series and it’s a new game tomorrow,” Rowe said. “We’ll put this one behind us and get ready for Game 7. We just had a little talk in the locker room and we’ve put this game in the rearview mirror. It’s a one-game series. We just have to regroup and it’s a new day (Wednesday).”