Sunday, November 23, 2014

Third-period comeback sends Royals past Fuel

by Rob Riches
Phanatic Hockey Writer
Twitter: @Riches61

READING, Pa. -- Despite finding themselves down by three goals, the Reading Royals on Saturday night roared back with four goals in the third period to top the Indy Fuel, 4-3.

Olivier Labelle’s fourth goal of the season with 2:42 to go in the third turned out to be one of his biggest, as it gave the Royals their first lead of the game. Labelle scored on a loose puck in front of the net from Mike Marcou and Adam Hughesman to provide the hosts a memorable game winner.

“It was a very emotional game, and I’m just happy to get the two points,” Labelle said.

The comeback started 4:28 into the final stanza, as Maxim Lamarche scored his first of the season for the Flyers’ ECHL affiliate. Pat Mullane and Adam Comrie then added two power play tallies, with Zach Davies assisting on both. 

Undisciplined, reckless play by the Fuel (3-7-2-1) set up both power-play tallies, as Garrett Bembridge took a minor for boarding and Anders Franzon sat two minutes for shooting the puck over the glass in his defensive zone.

The Fuel’s three-goal lead all came in the second period. First-year Fuel defenseman Kirill Gotovets scored his first two goals of the season, while Justin Holl -- back in the region for the first time since participating in the 2014 NCAA final with Minnesota -- scored his first of the season as well. Robert Czarnik added primary assists on both tallies.

Trailing by a goal with 10:20 on the clock, the Royals looked to inspiration from David Marshall. After former Flyers prospect Garrett Klotz threw a late, blindside hit on captain Bryant Molle, Marshall and Klotz dropped the gloves. The 6-foot-5, 234-pound Klotz had no problem getting his shots in on the 5-foot-11, 183-pound Marshall, but Marshall ultimately wrestled Klotz down.

“I like what Marshall did in the end,” Royals head coach Larry Courville said. “That was a pretty cheap hit by [Klotz]. I though Marshall stepping up went a long way on our bench and in our locker room. It doesn’t matter if you win a fight, it matters that you were there for your teammate.”

Ultimately, a third-period comeback may not have been necessary, had two Royals goals been able to stand. The goals were called back in the first and third periods, after incidental contact with Fuel goalie Cody Reichard. Unlike their partnering NHL, the ECHL doesn’t have the luxury of a centralized “command center” for video review, so the referee’s calls had to stand de facto.

“When we went over our game plan, we had a sheet that says that goalie likes to get involved in the scrums,” Courville said. “He intentionally gets involved in the scrums, looks like he’s getting in position.

“Whether those two goals could stand, I’d have to look at the video.”

The Royals (7-5-1-0) have accumulated points in nine of their past 10 games, and are riding a 4-0-1-0 unbeaten streak. They have a chance to move forward with a quick turnaround, with a second crack at the Fuel again at 5:05 p.m. Sunday.

 Both teams had never met before Saturday, and it subsequently led to a character win for the Royals.

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