CINCINNATI, Ohio – Cincinnati Cyclones center Barret Ehgoetz collected a first period goal and Robert Mayer turned away all 25 shots he faced in a 1-0 victory over the Reading Royals on Wednesday night.
The Cyclones complete their comeback from a 0-3 deficit in the best of seven series to win in the full seven games, having won four straight.
With the victory, the Cyclones advance to the Kelly Cup Finals for the second time in three seasons and will play the Idaho Steelheads for the ECHL championship. The Cyclones become only the sixth team in pro hockey history to rally from a three games to none deficit to win a best of seven series in the playoffs. Cincinnati has now gone the distance in all three of the USA Collision Centers postseason rounds to advance. A full press release on the dates of the games and times will follow shortly.
This was the sixth time in the Kelly Cup playoffs that the Cyclones won a game when a loss would end their season. In elimination games over the four seasons under Weber, Cincinnati is 9-2.
The Cyclones got the lone goal of the opening period, as Barret Ehgoetz took a feed in the slot from Dustin Sproat for his ninth goal of the playoffs. The four-on-four goal came with a faceoff in the left circle next to Reading goalie Matt Dalton. The Royals pulled the draw in back of the net and Sproat won a foot race to grab the puck and put it where Ehgoetz had hustled to. The shots favored Cincinnati, 10-7, in the period and each team had two unconverted power play chances.
There was no scoring in the second period, as the defensive nature of the contest kicked in. The shots on goal favored Reading, 7-4, in the period.
Cincinnati had the only power play chance of the period but was not able to capitalize
In the third period, there was no scoring. Reading pulled goaltender Dalton for a sixth attacker for the final two minutes but was unable to equal the scores.
The Royals won the shots battle in the third period, 11-9, and for the game held the upper hand—25-23.
Robert Mayer, who was pulled in last night's game after giving up three goals, stopped all 25 shots in collecting his second win of the playoffs. Mayer has both victories via shutout and leads the Kelly Cup playoffs with those blankings. Matt Dalton stopped
22 shots in taking the loss. Dalton leads the playoffs with ten victories. Cincinnati was zero for four on the power play, while Reading was shutout in three tries with the extra attacker.
The last time a team rallied from a three games to none deficit in a pro hockey series to win was the IHL's Orlando Solar Bears during 1999. The club rallied to defeat the Detroit Vipers in the seventh game in double overtime in the Motor City. One of the front office employees in the Orlando offices was Chuck Weber—the Cyclones Head Coach now—who would enter into the coaching profession the next season.
The other teams to rally from three down to win a series were the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL), the 1960 Rochester Americans (AHL), the 1975 New York Islanders (NHL) and the 1989 Adirondack Red Wings (AHL).
The Cyclones posted a 44-25-3 record in the regular season and entered the postseason as the fifth placed team in the American Conference. Cincinnati upset fourth-seeded and defending Kelly Cup champion South Carolina in the opening round. The best of five series went the full five contests—the last three being decided in overtime, all at Charleston. In the semifinals, the Cyclones went a full seven games before knocking off Charlotte—the regular season American Conference champion. This was Cincinnati's fourth trip to the conference finals, the club has now won two of the four visits.
The Royals turned in a 37-29-6 record to finish in seventh place in the American Conference standings.
Reading upended North Division champion Kalamazoo in five games and then swept sixth-seeded Florida in four games. This is the club's second trip to the conference finals—having lost to Florida in its other trip in 2005. Reading has played in two seventh games—both losses to the Cyclones (2008 North Division Finals).
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