Cincinnati, OH – The Reading Royals are headed to the Kelly Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history.
The Royals clinched the Eastern Conference Championship with a 3-1 win in Game Five of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Final match-up against the Cincinnati Cyclones at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio Saturday night. The Royals won the third round playoff series four games to one and were awarded the E.A. ‘Bud’ Gingher Memorial Trophy, as the Eastern Conference Playoff Champions. This will mark the first trip to the Kelly Cup Finals for the Royals, which will start in Reading on Saturday.
Neither team was able to break through in the opening period, as free space was hard to come by in the early going. The Cyclones put eight shots on the net, while Reading generated just four despite having the only power play chance of the opening stanza.
Reading struck first 7:08 into the second period when Alex Berry sprang Ian O’Connor on a break through the neutral zone. O’Connor carried deep into the right circle and, using Ethan Cox coming down the left side as a decoy, ripped a snap shot across the body of Michael Houser (loss, 9-5-3, 17/20) for his fourth of the playoff season. The Royals stretched the lead to 2-0 11:29 into the second on a short-handed break for Kirk MacDonald, who carried down the left wing side, cut towards the Cincinnati net and slipped one under and through Houser for his third of the playoff season—and second SHG.
Cincinnati got on the board 16:01 into the second after a massive scrum in front of the Royals’ net. Dan Eves pulled the puck out of a pile of humanity and chipped it over a prone Riley Gill (win, 9-2-1, 25/26) for his third of the playoff season.
Reading got some third period insurance 8:56 into the final frame, when Mark Mitera chipped and chased down the left corner. Mitera freed the puck to Yannick Tifu who found T.J. Syner wide open and all alone at the top of the crease. Syner slipped a back-hand through Houser for his fifth of the playoff season.
The Royals now advance to the Kelly Cup Finals where they’ll play the winner of the Western Conference Finals, either the Idaho Steelheads or Stockton Thunder. Game One of the Finals will be on Saturday.
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
(1) Reading Royals v (2) Cincinnati Cyclones
READING WINS SERIES FOUR GAMES TO ONE
Game One: Reading 5 – Cincinnati 4 Double-OT (Sovereign Center, Reading, PA)
Game Two: Reading 3 – Cincinnati 2 OT (Sovereign Center, Reading, PA)
Game Three: Cincinnati 3 – Reading 2 OT (US Bank Arena, Cincinnati, OH)
Game Four: Reading 3 – Cincinnati 2 (US Bank Arena, Cincinnati, OH)
Game Five: Reading 3 – Cincinnati 1 (US Bank Arena, Cincinnati, OH)