READING, Pennsylvania – In what turned out to be the longest overtime game in franchise history, former Cyclone Ben Gordon netted the game-winning goal at the 8:15 mark of double overtime to lift the Reading Royals (1-1) to a 5-4 win over the Cincinnati Cyclones (1-1) at the Sovereign Center on Wednesday night. The best-of-five series is now even at one.
Cincinnati opened the scoring at 10:31 when Eric Kattelus singlehandedly worked his way to the slot and backhanded a laser-accurate shot over Royals netminder Matt Dalton (W, 38 saves, 1-1) for a 1-0 lead. However, Reading answered back just before the break as Ryan Cruthers beat Cincinnati goalie Brian Foster (L, 33 saves, 1-0) with a wrist shot through a screen at the 18:21 mark to knot the score at one after 20 minutes.
Early in the middle frame, Reading's power play cashed in as Olivier Labelle banged in a rebound for his first goal of the playoffs and a 2-1Royals lead. However, the Cyclones once again drew even at 7:40 as Brian O'Hanley let loose a heavy point shot that beat Dalton – making it 2-2. The Royals, though, were able to grab a two-goal cushion in the final 10 minutes of the stanza as Labelle buried another rebound and Yannick Riendeau tallied on a two-on-one rush to give Reading a 4-2 lead heading into the second intermission.
In the third period, Cincinnati rallied back as Mathieu Aubin scored his second goal in as-many nights to pull his team within one at the 10:29 mark. Then, with just over two minutes remaining, a bizarre bounce from the right corner rolled along the Reading goal line; Scott Lehman, who was crashing the net, was able to push the puck over the line to tie the game at four. And for the first time in this postseason, the teams skated into overtime.
After playing through the first extra session without a goal, they pushed into a second overtime period. Early in the second overtime, Cincinnati found itself with several good scoring chances but could not tally. Then, during a mad scramble in the Cyclones defensive zone, a rebound was redirected off Foster's pad and into the low-rim of the right circle where Ben Gordon was looming. The former Cyclone deposited the loose puck into the net for the game-winning goal at the 8:15 mark to give the Royals a 5-4 win and tie the best-of-five series at one game apiece. It was just the third time since the Cyclones resumed ECHL play in 2006 that a playoff game had been decided in double overtime – and turned out to be the longest as well (91:45).