By Don Stewart
READING, Pa. – For the Reading Royals, the plot for Saturday’s Game 6 against the Cincinnati Cyclones is like a recurring theme. They faced an identical scenario in their previous series against Elmira.
The Royals would like nothing more than the same ending.
In what could be one of the biggest games in the seven-year history of the team, the Royals will try to eliminate the top-seeded Cyclones when they meet for a 7:05 contest at the Sovereign Center.
Reading took 2-of-3 at U.S. Bank Arena, including Thursday’s dramatic 1-0 win, to grab a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven ECHL North Division finals series.
A victory on Saturday would put the Royals in the conference finals for the second time. Their other trip came in 2004.
But first they’ll have to take care of the Cyclones, the ECHL’s top team during the regular season.
If Cincinnati wins on Saturday, the series goes back to U.S. Bank Arena for Game 7 Monday night.
The Cyclones held a 43-25 edge in shots Thursday, but goalie Danny Taylor made all 43 stops to post the shutout. Taylor is 7-4-0 with a 0.910 save percentage and a 2.40 goals-against average in the postseason.
Taylor was clearly the standout player Thursday, along with center Brock Hooton, who bagged his fourth game-winning goal of the playoffs. The Royals penalty kill, 10-for-10 Thursday, has denied the league’s top power play on its last 21 chances.
Reading was in the same spot back on April 20, when they returned to the Sovereign Center for Game 6 of the division semifinals after pulling out a one-goal win on the road to take a 3-2 series lead.
The Royals won that one in overtime, preventing a return to Elmira for Game 7.
They’ll be hoping for a similar fate on Saturday, while the Cyclones will try to throw a serious twist in the plot.