Monday, February 09, 2015

Resilient Royals get hat trick against Florida, tie record with 11th straight win

Reading, PA -- There are only three things I know for sure following Sunday night's game between the Florida Everblades and Reading Royals.

First, is that the league desperately needs a replay apparatus to review goals such as the one Evan Bloodoff scored literally as time expired to send the game into overtime.

Second, is that the Everblades must be damn sick of seeing their opponents after they completed a three-in-three sweep this weekend.

Third, that the Royals eventually hung on to win this contest by a 3-2 score after taking the shootout in the ninth round, matching a franchise record with their 11th straight victory set two years ago by the Kelly Cup champions.

In the end, Andrew Johnston beat Andy Iles and Martin Ouellette stopped Mike Aviani in the game's final segment and a home crowd of 4,007 had a better reason to let their feelings be known than at the end of regulation. Reading officially moved into first place by two points over Florida in the East Division with the clean sheet, although the latter has three games in hand.

Royals head coach Larry Courville wasn't around to celebrate the positive result, having been given a game misconduct for a heated disagreement with referee Andrew Wilk after Bloodoff's second goal of the contest was allowed to stand.

Things might have been different had the hosts not blown a 2-0 first-period lead. Ryan Cruthers opened the scoring just 3:06 in at the tail end of the game's first power play by redirecting Mike Marcou's point shot, before David Marshall doubled the edge with 6:10 gone and Bryant Molle just out of the penalty box to end a two-man disadvantage.

Bloodoff got one back for the Everblades, at 12:07 and finally cashing in on their third advantage of the opening period. He got enough of the puck from a Mitch Wahl cross-ice dish to slide it past Ouellette.

Iles was on the bench for an extra skater when chaos ensued. Cameron Burt managed to fire a puck through a screen, where it was hidden for a moment before emerging behind Ouellette and slithering across the goal line as the buzzer sounded and light to indicate the end of the game was lit.

With no other means to accurately review the play -- if the off-ice goal judge cannot provide certainty -- than the officials' discretion, Wilk signaled the score would stand, touching off Courville's intense and negative reaction.

Once things calmed down a bit, the Royals were given a power play just 18 seconds into overtime thanks to an Adam Brace boarding call, but failed to do anything with it.

Ouellette ended up with 36 saves and Iles stopped 23 pucks. Reading's next chance to set a new franchise record occurs in Cincinnati on Wednesday night.

Courville also coached the Royals two years back during their Kelly Cup run and guided an early-season 11-game win streak which turned a 1-5-1 team into a contender. That year's club saw their win streak halted at home by Evansville by a 4-2 count on Nov. 24, 2012.

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