By Dan Saevig
Toledo Blade Sports Writer
TOLEDO, Ohio – Barry Brust has been “lights out” for Reading in the first three games of the Kelly Cup playoffs, and if the Storm doesn’t flip a switch tonight against the Royals’ goalie it may be lights out on the 2004-05 season.
Reading holds a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five North Division semifinal series largely because of the play of the Los Angeles Kings’ pro, who has permitted but one goal on 102 shots in those three games.
The Storm must win this evening’s 7:05 p.m. start at the Sports Arena in order to force a deciding Game 5 tomorrow in Reading.
The winner of the series will meet Trenton in the North Division Finals.
“I was there and when you’re in the zone, you’re in the zone,” said Storm coach Nick Vitucci, the winningest netminder in ECHL history. “You can’t get frustrated, you’ve got to continue doing the same thing.
“We’re getting quality scoring chances and we’re getting them consistently and there’s no point in changing that. You don’t want to try to over pass or maybe overplay the puck.”
Brust – a 6-2, 210-pound rookie who was a two-time all-star in the Western Hockey League – is tops among ECHL goaltenders in the postseason, with a minuscule 0.34 goals-against average and a .990 save percentage.
“I sure hope I can [continue to put up the numbers],” Brust said. “I don’t know if those numbers are really attainable, but it’s not just me. Our team’s been great and Fankie’s [Storm goalie Scott Fankhouser] been unbelievable, too.”
Fankhouser’s save percentage of .968 (three goals on 93 shots) is second overall to Brust and his GAA of 1.02 is third-best in the league.
He’s been impressed by Brust.
“He’s not what you would call a typical-style goalie, he just gets in front of the puck,” Fankhouser said. “He’s a lot like (NHLer) Dominik Hasek where he battles his way through it and stops the puck.
“For me, you have to get it high and in the corners because he takes up the middle of the net really well. It’s going to take a good shot to beat him and sometimes it just takes a lucky bounce off one of their defensemen’s backsides or something like that.”