By Mike Mastovich
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – Ryan Munce hadn’t played in many games for the Johnstown Chiefs, but the goaltender still wasn’t very well-rested entering Sunday’s meeting against Reading.Munce had a restless night in the hours leading up to his first start against his former team.
“It was just a lot of nerves. I was so nervous,” said Munce, who played 20 games for Reading this season. “I was tossing and turning all night (Saturday). Not only was it against Reading. Not only was it a big game for the playoff situation. But I had not played for a long time. I just needed to get in there and get on a roll. The first goal on the first shot didn’t help. But after that it was like, ‘OK, I know how to do this.’ ”
The Chiefs answered with five third-period goals in a 5-2 victory, Munce’s first with Johnstown. Munce had 24 saves.
“It was much more special beating my former team,” said Munce, who was assigned to the Chiefs after the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning acquired him in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings – the Royals’ owner/affiliate – for a future fourth-round draft pick.
“They’re a bunch of good guys over there. But the principle is you never want to lose to your old team. It’s about bragging rights. It’s always great to win as the home team, but it’s even better being in the playoff race.”
Munce hadn’t started since Jan. 24 at Trenton. He played two periods and was relieved after he allowed four goals. Morgan Cey won the overtime shootout 5-4 that night. Prior to that, Munce entered a Jan. 21 game in relief of Cey, allowing one goal on 21 shots in 25:59 during the 3-0 loss at Toledo.
“I played in only three games in the last two months,” Munce said. “It was tough to get into it real early. It’s obviously not the start that I wanted, allowing the quick goal. I started having a lot of fun in the second period. People could observe the body language with my confidence.
“I tried to regroup after the first goal. Personally I didn’t feel great. It was one of those things I relied on a little bit of luck and circumstances to get my confidence back. The team really stepped up. After that goal they didn’t allow any more (quality) shots that period and we registered 11.”
Munce allowed what appeared to be a soft goal by Hogeboom that tied the score at 2-all 12:08 into the third. The goalie said he encountered some bad luck on a deceiving shot more difficult than it appeared.
“For the record, the last goal didn’t go straight in,” he said. “It hit a clump of snow in front of me and went five-hole. I was feeling so good and playing well. I was confident. There’s no way a goal like that goes in under normal circumstances. I never saw a goal like that happen in my life. It jumped sideways.
“You had to keep your nerves and show it didn’t bother you,” Munce added. “It shows the other team that it doesn’t rattle you and it shows your team you’re still playing well.”