In tonight’s decisive game, the Royals scored late in the first and the proceeded to ring off four straight in the second—a scoring spree that included an unassisted even strength goal, a short-handed goal and a power play goal—to build what proved to be an insurmountable lead. Goaltender Riley Gill (win 13-3-1, 29/29), who was selected as the ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs’ Most Valuable Player, made all twenty-nine saves he was called upon to make—several in spectacular fashion—to record his fourth shutout of the playoff season.
This marks the first ECHL championship win for the Royals, who just completed their twelfth season in Reading. This is the seventeenth Kelly Cup Awarded in this the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary season for the ECHL. The league champion in the first eight seasons of the league was awarded the Riley Cup. The Royals are the tenth different organization in the ECHL to win the Kelly Cup; and the sixteenth different organization to win the league championship.
With this Championship, Royals’ defenseman Patrick Wellar becomes only the second player in ECHL history to win the Kelly Cup three times. Wellar, who won the Cup with the Alaska Aces (2006) and South Carolina Stingrays (2009), joins Scott Burt in that regard. For Ethan Cox and Nikita Kashirsky, this marks their second Kelly Cup Championship. Cox won it previously with the Alaska Aces in 2011. Kashirsky was a member of the Stingrays in their championship run in 2009. For Bryant Molle, Barry Almeida and Stan Galiev, this marks a second consecutive championship season. Molle was a member of the 2012 CHL President’s Cup Champion Fort Wayne Komets. Almeida won the NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey National Championship with Boston College in 2012. Galiev was a member of the Saint John’s Sea Dogs who won the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Championship in 2012.
After an energetic start to tonight’s game that saw both clubs generate quality scoring chances, the Royals struck first 17:05 into the first period when Mark Mitera threw a wrister off the wide left point that hit a body on the way in and deflected behind goaltender Tyler Bunz (loss, 1-1-0 28/34) for Mitera’s second of the season—and what proved to be his first game winner of the season.
The Royals then exploded for four in the second. It started 2:49 into the period, when Brett Flemming walked around everyone down the right wing side, got tight to the goaltender Bunz and forced it under him for Flemming’s fifth of the playoff season, which proved to lead all defenseman in the ECHL. Reading then capitalized on the team’s first penalty kill of the night with a short-handed goal by Ian O’Connor. T.J. Syner sprang O’Connor for the break, and he buried a hot snapper by Bunz for his sixth of the playoff season—and his second SHG and the fourth SHG of the playoff season for Reading.
The Royals stretched the lead to 4-0 when Pat Wellar fired from the left point. Bunz made the save, but Syner was wide open out in front to punch back the rebound for his ninth of the playoff season. Reading stretched the lead to 5-0 with a power play goal by Stan Galiev, who was inserted into the Royals’ line-up tonight after missing twelve consecutive games. Galiev got a clean look for a bullet-wrister from the left circle for his fourth of the playoff season with 4:50 remaining in the second period. Galiev was set up by Yannick Tifu, who recorded his twenty-fifth point of the playoff season (12g-13a) which proved to lead all players in the ECHL’s post-season.
Reading added one more in the third when Syner set up Joel Champagne, charging down the middle, for a redirect over Bunz with 3:35 left in regulation. But by that time, the outcome had been pretty much determined as the Royals played a simple and solid final period of the 2012-13 season.