Royals rookie forward Mikhail Stefanovich recorded his first-career hat trick including the game-winning goal to give the Reading Royals (10-6-0-0) a 4-3 overtime victory over the Cincinnati Cyclones (7-5-4-1) at the Sovereign Center on Wednesday night.
Cincinnati found the net first as Scott Reynolds tipped home a Brian O'Hanley blast for his fourth goal of the season and a 1-0 Cyclones lead at the 6:41 mark. However, just 11 seconds later, Mikhail Stefanovich skated through the Cyclones end and wristed one past Cincinnati netminder Chet Pickard (L, 33 saves, 1-3-2-0) to knot the score at 1.
In the middle frame, the Royals took a 2-1 lead in the strangest of fashions; at the 7:55 mark, Ryan Cruthers attempted a harmless centering feed that deflected off of a Cyclones skate and through the legs of Pickard. Luckily, Cincinnati was able to net the equalizer at 12:46 when Mathieu Aubin collected a rebound left by Royals goalie Matt Dalton (W, 27, saves, 6-3-0-0) and stashed it for his fifth goal of the season. The teams skated into the second intermission tied at two.
The Royals jumped back out front just 5:05 into the third period as Stefanovich picked up a loose puck at center ice and angled the puck past Pickard for a 3-2 advantage. However, just as they did in the second period, the Cyclones answered back; Christiaan Minella snapped a laser of a shot past Dalton for the game-tying goal and a 3-3 score at the 11:47 mark. For an ECHL-high eighth time, the Cyclones went into overtime.
Unfortunately in the extra session, Stefanovich capped off his first-career hat trick by sending a low wrist shot past Pickard's right pad for the game-winning tally at the 2:02 mark.