By Don Stewart
CINCINNATI – Saying the Cincinnati Cyclones-Reading Royals playoff series followed expectations is kind of like calling powdered wigs fashionable.
Many anticipated a Cincinnati blowout, but the ECHL North Division finals went the full seven games. The underdog Royals had a 3-2 series lead, then unexpectedly strayed from the formula in dropping the last two contests.
It ended Monday night at U.S. Bank Arena, not with an overtime thriller or even a close game. No, that would have been too fitting. Instead, the Cyclones blasted their way to a 6-1 win to end Reading’s season.
“A lot of people probably never thought we’d be in a Game 7 with Cincy,” alternate captain Kevin Saurette said Monday night. “But in this dressing room, we knew. We had those guys, we had them on the ropes all series, and we let them hang around.
“They’re a good team, and they made us pay tonight.”
Considering it was a series that surprisingly favored the visiting team, the Royals didn’t seem to be on their way to a five-goal loss in Game 7,
The first two contests were held at the Sovereign Center, thanks to a schedule conflict at U.S. Bank Arena with Sesame Street On Ice. The Royals’ smart, physical play keyed a 5-3 Game 1 win that would be their last at home.
The Cyclones used an abundance of power-play chances to win 3-2 in Game 2, giving them momentum as the series shifted to Cincinnati for the next three matchups. But the Royals took Game 3 (5-2) and Game 5 (1-0) against a team that lost only four times at home during the regular season.
“I thought Karl (Taylor) had his team prepared from the start,” Cyclones coach Chuck Weber said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be an easy series. Everyone made us out to be the goliath in this series, but Reading’s a great team. They’ve had a lot of good improvements.
“(Kevin) Schaeffer and (Patrik) Hersley were a great defensive pair. Their go-to guys played as go-to guys throughout the series. (Goalie Danny) Taylor was fantastic for most of the series. I give them all the credit. Karl did a great job preparing them for us. They’re a great franchise.”