Thunder Strikes for Late Third Period Game-Tying Sixth-Attacker Goal But Defenseman Nick Luukko Strikes Back in the Skills Competition
Glens Falls, NY – The Reading Royals (win, 29-17-1-2 = 61) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League, defeated the Adirondack Thunder (SOL, 26-14-4-4 = 60), 6-5, in a shootout at Glens Falls Civic Center in Glens Falls, New York.
In the eighth matchup of the regular season between Reading and Adirondack—and the third that has gone beyond regulation time, the Royals picked up the two points in a wild back-and-forth affair during which Reading scored first and held two separate two goal leads, but needed the skills competition to notch the win. Adirondack came back by virtue of three third period goals, including a pulled-goaltender, sixth-attacker strike with just 17.3 seconds left in regulation. But Reading re-grouped a claimed the victory by virtue of a shootout goal by defenseman Nick Luukko in his first pro shootout attempt—and three big stops in the skills competition by goaltender Mark Dekanich.
The win, which was the first shootout victory of the season for Reading in three tries in the skills competition, snapped a three game losing streak for the Royals and pushed Reading into sole possession of second place in the North Division. With three more games to go between the two teams, the Royals have compiled a 6-1-0-1 record against the Thunder—and have gone 3-0-0-1 at Glens Falls Civic Center.
Reading scored on the team’s first shot when Mike Pereira charged through the neutral zone and a Thunder defender fell at the offensive blue line, allowing Pereira to walk into the offensive end where he drilled a snapper out of the left circle that buzzed across the body of goaltender Mason MacDonald for his tenth of the year 48 seconds into the game.
Adirondack returned the favor on their first shot of the second period while the two teams were playing four aside. Defenseman Conor Riley carried down the left wing side and fired a shot from a steep angle that eluded goaltender Mark Dekanich twenty-eight seconds into the middle frame.
The Thunder took their lone lead of the game 4:25 into the second when defenseman Stepan Falkovsky took off from the neutral zone, blowing behind a Reading defender and laying down a beautiful backhand-forehand move for his fifteenth of the year.
Reading re-tied the game at two 9:48 into the second when Tyrell Goulbourne was able to stuff in a wrap-around at the right pipe for his seventh of the year—and his third goal in his last four games.
The Royals then regained the lead at 3-2 17:31 into the second when Olivier Labelle ripped one from the top of the right circle. MacDonald made a left shoulder save, but the puck fell out in front of him, and Ryan Penny stepped in, took control, and—as he was falling to the ice—wrapped the puck around MacDonald’s body and into the net for his fifteenth of the year.
1:16 after that, Reading took the team’s first two-goal advantage at 4-2 when Goulbourne made a clever reverse pass below the goal line in the left corner, where Robbie Czarnik picked up the puck, cut around and behind the Adirondack net, and walked out on the right side, where he turned, wheeled and ripped a snapper across the body and behind MacDonald for his eighteenth of the year.
The Thunder cut the lead back to one (4-3) 3:02 into the third, when James Henry buried a snap shot from point blank off the rush for his twelfth of the year.
Reading answered to regain the two goal differential for a second time (5-3) when Florian Iberer got a clean low for the low slot. His shot buzzed by wide left, but the puck ricocheted off the end wall and bounded back to the end line, where Czarnik quickly snapped the puck home from a tight and sharp angle for his second of the game and nineteenth of the year.
From there, Adirondack turned up the pressure cooker and were able to claw their way back in. First, by virtue of a big slap shot from the mid-slot by Brock Montgomery that eked through Dekanich with 4:36 left. And then, with the goaltender pulled and the sixth attacker on the ice, the Thunder created a flurry of offensive chances that ended with a game-tying goal by Peter MacArther when he sniped a sharp-angle snapper from deep on the left wing side through a mass of humanity out in front of Dekanich.
Overtime offered any number of chances to end things at both ends of the ice; but it took the skills completion to resolve this one. And it was up t defenseman Nick Luukko, taking his first pro shootout attempt, to get the goal that proved to be the difference—out-maneuvering MacDonald with a backhand-forehand move. Olivier Labelle shooting first and Jesper Pettersson shooting third for Reading were both stopped; and Dekanich made three good saves on James Henry, Dana Fraser, and Peter MacArthur.