Wonderfully crazy night in the ECHL's Kelly Cup playoffs tonight as both the Stockton Thunder and Reading Royals moved within one win of reaching the Finals.
Stockton owns a 3-1 series lead on the Idaho Steelheads after tonight's 3-2 win. Reading owns a 3-1 lead over Cincinnati after tonight's 3-2 win. Game 5's are Saturday at Stockton and Cincy.
But just giving the score doesn't do justice to just how crazy the games were tonight.
Cincinnati suffered one of the worst starts The Blog can ever recall on home ice -- in the opening 75 seconds, the Cyclones gave up two goals and took a major penalty and game misconduct for boarding, by their leading goal scorer, David Pacan, no less. Man, that's three shifts from hell.
Still, Cincy got it back to 2-2 midway through the third period, only to have Reading's Joel Champagne strike on the power play for the game winner with a mere 11 seconds left in regulation.
Reading includes former Alaska Aces center Ethan Cox, former UAF and Aces defenseman Bryant Molle of Anchorage and former Aces defenseman Patrick Wellar, who just rejoined the Royals after Hershey was eliminated in the AHL's Calder Cup playoffs. Also, Brock Shelgren, the former Aces defenseman, plays for Reading. Wellar, by the way, got a one-year deal for Hershey for next season.
In Stockton, meanwhile, Idaho's Brett Robinson opened the scoring 47 seconds into the second period. Stockton's Harrison Reed answered just 20 seconds later. Stockton captain Garet Hunt scored 2:59 into the third period to give the Thunder a 2-1 edge, but Robinson countered just 14 seconds later for a 2-2 tie.
Stockton's Maxime Boisclair fired the last of his game-high six shots on goal for the game winner with just 2:36 to go.
In the Central Hockey League, former Aces winger Matt Robinson and the Wichita Thunder forced a decisive Game 7 Saturday for the Presidents' Cup with a 3-2 road victory over the Allen Americans. Robinson furnished an assist and owns 2-6--8 and +4 totals in 14 playoff games. Game 7 is in Allen. Wichita is in the Finals for the second straight season -- the Thunder fell to Fort Wayne in five games last season.