READING, Pennsylvania – Rookie Bobby Shea's first career playoff goal was the game winner at the 9:37 mark of double overtime, lifting the Reading Royals (9-4 playoffs) to a 5-4 win over the Cincinnati Cyclones (8-5 playoffs) in front of 2,659 at Sovereign Center on Friday night.
The Cyclones drew first blood at the 6:17 mark when Josh Shalla caught a pass from Josh McFadden, sidestepped Riley Gill (W, 50 saves, 6-2) and buried his first pro playoff goal to give his team a 1-0 lead. However, the Royals answered back at 13:15 when Evan Barlow sent a wrist shot past a screened Michael Houser (OTL, 38 saves, 8-5) to knot things at one. The clubs would remain even after 20 minutes of play.
Just 1:52 into the middle stanza, Mathieu Aubin caught a pass from the corner and slid home his fifth goal of the playoffs to push the Cyclones ahead again, at 2-1. Unfortunately, the Royals were able to answer once more not even two minutes later as T.J. Syner's sharp angle shot careened off of a Cincinnati defenseman and into the net to even the game at two. But the Cyclones would regain the advantage again at the 9:52 mark when David Pacan tipped home Shalla's shot from the left circle to give the visiting team a 3-2 cushion heading into the final period of regulation.
For the third time in the game, the Royals were able to erase a one-goal deficit as Barlow snapped home his second of the night at 7:14 of the third period. In the final five minutes, the Cyclones appeared to be headed to a regulation win as Josh McFadden tipped home a point shot for his fourth of the playoffs, giving his team a late 4-3 lead. Unfortunately, though, a dump from center ice directed off of a glass partition and rolled into the net – as Houser was out to play it. The quirky strike evened things at four and forced the contest into overtime.
Both teams had some great chances in the first extra session, but the goaltenders stayed strong and pushed the series opener into double overtime, still even at four goals apiece. As the second bonus period got underway, the Royals came out buzzing but could not find the net. The Cyclones, too, had a few potential game-winners denied by Gill to keep the contest going. Then, at 9:37, lucky bounce for Reading from the right wing boards found Bobby Shea in the high slot; the rookie sent a mid-level wrist shot past Houser to seal a 5-4 Reading win in Game 1.
Game 2 is Sunday in Reading.