The Reading Royals suffered a critical loss in their final home game of the series against the Newfoundland Growlers. Royals fans left the Santander Arena Tuesday night, hoping this was not the last meeting until opening night in October.
Royals fans experienced a heartbreaking night, starting with a goal just 14 seconds in by Keenan Suthers, assisted by Isaac Johnson and Jonny Tychonick. The goal came right off the opening faceoff, leaving fans with their heads down early but still hopeful for a bounce back in this final home game of the series. The Royals tied up the game at 2:10 seconds with a goal by Max Newton, assisted by Alec Butcher, that kept the game at a tie. Unfortunately for the Royals, it was the only goal they would see until the third period as the Growlers scored five more unanswered goals, two in the first period and three in the second. Starting goalie, Pat Nagle, was pulled from the game and replaced by goaltender Kaden Fulcher who has not seen game action since February 25th against Adirondack, where he faced 30 shots and allowed only one goal. The Royals did manage to fight back at the end of the game, scoring twice more to at least bring the game within three, one of which was a power-play goal at 10:11 seconds by Evan Barratt, assisted by Max Newton and Garrett McFadden. The other was a short-handed goal scored by Brendan Hoffmann. The final shots on the goal for the game were 34 for Newfoundland and 20 for the Royals.
This series looks like a reverse of the Division Finals from last season, with this Game 3 looking much like last year’s Game 7. This Game 3 saw a total of six shots in the first period for the Royals, while the team last year had only four in the same period. In Game 7 of last year, the total shots on goal for the Royals were 16, and the Growlers doubled that with 35. Last year, the Royals lost the final three games of the series against Newfoundland, so could we possibly be seeing a reverse turnout in this series? There is a possibility, but improvements need to be made for that to happen. With this series, there are a lot of turnovers that result in goals. This team’s defense is seeing a heavy collapse that is responsible for much of the goals scored predominantly by important players. Often fans have asked, “Where is our captain?” as he needs to be making those big defensive moves for his team to prevent games where teams are going up on them by five goals. When a player has that “C” on their jersey, they need to be the role model, the driving force for the team to keep the effort and drive to win. What else can a team do when the captain is nowhere to be found? It becomes worrisome when there isn’t a leader getting the team in the game to get those shots on net, especially when you’re already down a few games in the series. One more loss in this series, and the Royals are swept right out of the Kelly Cup playoffs. Will they pull themselves together in St. John’s to continue their chase for the cup? Or did Royals fans watch their final game of the 2022-2023 season?