ECHL: What Will It Take To Stop The Newfoundland Growlers? Reading Royals’ Overtime Loss Extends Playoff Overtime Losing Streak

The Newfoundland Growlers take Game 2 of the North Division Finals, continuing their winning streak against a seemingly exhausted Reading Royals as the Royals extend their playoff OT losses to eleven. This loss raises the question of what exactly will it take to stop such a strong team as the Newfoundland Growlers?

The Reading Royals lose Game 2 of the North Divisions Finals, giving the Newfoundland Growlers a 2-0 lead (Photo Credit: Newfoundland Growlers)

The Reading Royals started off Game 2 much differently than Game 1, coming out and scoring first just 4:14 into the first period by Mason Millman, his first of the postseason, assisted by Evan Barratt and Devon Paliani. The Royals even got a moment of revenge, turning the tables from Game 1 and making the game 2-0 at 12:44 seconds with Evan Barratt giving the crowd a taste of hope as they held tightly onto the lead with a power play goal, assisted by Garrett McFadden and Charlie Gerard. That hope, however, was quickly lost for Royals fans as the Growlers tied up the game with the first goal at 16:48 by Pavel Gogolev, assisted by Orrin Centazzo and Jonny Tychonick, and the second at 18:10 Nolan Walker, assisted by Zach Solow and Brett Budgell. The second period was much the same as Game 1; the Growlers held the control while the Royals struggled to keep up and maintain possession of the puck. The Royals held out defensively until the 15:03 mark when Mikko Kokkonen took back the lead, assisted by Nolan Walker. Much to the crowd’s surprise, the Royals bounced right back just 15 seconds later, where Evan Barratt tied it up again, assisted by Jacob Gaucher. Both teams held out until the third period, with the Royals taking back the lead once more with Devon Paliani scoring at the 1:47 mark, assisted by Yvan Mongo. The Royals needed to hold on defensively for the rest of the period to claim the game. Still, the Growlers had other plans as they took away the lead once again, scoring at the 7:55 mark, assisted by Jack Badini, caused by a turnover by Garrett McFadden as he tried clearing the puck at the front of the net. Overtime was the deciding factor of this game, and though the Royals had chance after chance to score, they just couldn’t light the lamp. It was a power play that ended it for the Growlers as they took advantage and scored just six seconds into their one-man advantage earning them the 5-4 victory over the Royals.

So what do the Royals need to do to stop the Growlers? This is their second time facing the Growlers in playoffs, and the results are almost the same. Last season, the Royals took Game 1 at home with a 7-3 victory over Newfoundland but lost the following night 4-1 as Newfoundland tied up the series. Reading then went on to take Games 3 and 4 but lost Games 5 and 6, with the series ending in favor of the Growlers with a 4-2 victory on the Royals’ home ice. The problem with this series was not prevalent until Game 7. It seemed like the Royals were exhausted, playing without the energy they held all series and just collapsing, causing a heavy loss to end the best season they had on record. Considering that, we look ahead to this season and how this series compares. The Royals have lost Games 1 and 2 at home, which is tough to come back from, let alone when the series, from this point forward, will be predominantly played on Growlers’ ice. Is home ice the issue here? Are the Royals better without distractions of their home fans where they can keep focus on the game? Or is there something deeper happening that the Royals have yet to piece together in this series? These first two games of the series had many turnovers, some even resulting in goals and tons of missed calls arguably on both sides of the field, which raises the question, who is to blame for the losses? Do we blame the refs for not making those critical calls even though the Royals have struggled on the power play the majority of the regular season? Do you blame lack of preparedness against a team arguably the entire league knows comes into games solid and ready to throw bodies? Or do you blame it on the odds not favoring the Royals? Whatever the answer may be, the Royals lie two games back in this series with only one guaranteed home game left, leaving fans wondering if this Tuesday will be the last time they see this team play until October.

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