By Don Stewart
READING, Pa. – Down three-nil late in the third period, the Reading Royals pulled the goalie and scored twice. Given what was at stake, they were on the verge of the most incredible comeback in team history.
But the Royals couldn’t find that tying goal, not before the Cincinnati Cyclones got a perfect bounce on a clear out of the their defensive zone, resulting in an empty-netter that sealed a 4-2 Game 6 victory Saturday night in the best-of-seven ECHL North Division finals.
Having staved off elimination, the Cyclones get to return home to U.S. Bank Arena for Monday night’s decisive Game 7 against the Royals.
“It was just a little too late,” Reading winger Chris Blight said. “We just didn’t match their desperation the whole game. Obviously at the end there we played pretty well. Hopefully we can carry that over into the next game.”
Cincinnati matched the Royals’ physical play and effectively clogged things up in front of the net to limit their shots. What did get through was smothered by backstop Cedrick Desjardins (27 saves).
Reading pulled goalie Danny Taylor (27 saves) after getting a late power play, then capitalized on the six-on-four advantage as Patrik Hersley connected from the left circle with 2:13 to go. With Taylor still pulled, Blight made it 3-2 by knocking in a Dany Roussin rebound 41 seconds later.
But as they did in Game 4, the Cyclones got an empty-netter to hold off the charge. Mathieu Aubin’s clear attempt bounced off the half wall and somehow found its way into the vacant net with 20.9 ticks on the clock.
“We never stopped trying,” Reading coach Karl Taylor said. “I love this team. They work really hard and they always believe we have a chance. Down 3-0 with three minutes to play, we just kept trying. It wasn’t a perfect game by us, but we’re playing a darn good team.
“They did a good job, but we came back. We do that all the time. Now we have to go win a Game 7 on the road. I expect us to play the best game of the year.”