READING, PENNSYLVANIA – Brampton Beast defenseman Tim Billingsley quieted the hometown crowd at Santander Arena with a big game-tying goal in the final minutes of regulation time, setting up overtime heroics for Jordan Henry, who lit the lamp with a sizzling point shot in overtime to lift the Beast to a 2-1 overtime victory over the Reading Royals on Saturday night, tying the North Division Semifinal at a game apiece.
Beast starting goaltender Zach Fucale, making his ECHL playoff debut, was nearly unbeatable between the pipes for Brampton, making 30 saves to help the Beast earn their first ever ECHL playoff victory.
For the second straight game to start the series, it was the Royals who struck first early in the first period as Ryan Penny scored just 2:32 into the first period, giving the Royals a 1-0 edge.
The remainder of the opening frame was a hard-fought, penalty-filled affair as the teams combined for eight minor penalties. Neither team could capitalize with the man advantage as the Royals skated into the first intermission up by a goal and leading 11-10 on the shot clock.
The Beast regrouped during the first intermission and came out flying to start the second. Brampton was all over Reading in the middle stanza and outshot the Royals by a significant 13-3 margin, but couldn’t beat Royals starter Mark Dekanich.
Starting the third period down by a goal, the Beast continued to apply relentless pressure. It took a total of 54:47 but the Beast finally found a way to solve Dekanich.
Tim Billingsley located a shot in the slot that pinballed through a crowd and used his long reach to slide in the game-tying goal with 5:13 remaining, giving the Beast new life in the dying minutes of regulation. Reggie Traccitto and Brandon MacLean earned the helpers on Billingsley’s first goal of the postseason.
Neither team could find a goal in the final minutes of the third period, forcing the game to overtime.
Once again, it was the Beast who came out with a bang to start the overtime period, seemingly firing shots on goal at will, eventually outshooting the Royals 12-5 in the period.
With time running out in overtime, Jordan Henry settled a loose puck along the right wing wall at the blue line and sent his signature snap shot toward the Reading goal. Just as the puck was approaching the Royals’ net, it glanced off one of their own defenders’ legs and ended up into the net. Connor Crisp and Brandon Marino earned assists on Henry’s series-tying goal, helping send the Beast back to Brampton with the series tied at one.
NOTES: Molson Three Stars: 3) Tim Billingsley (BRM) 2) Ryan Penny (REA) 1) Jordan Henry (BRM). The Beast finished the game 0-for-5 with the man advantage and were a perfect 5-for-5 on the penalty kill. Through two games, the Beast have killed off all eight Reading power play opportunities. The Beast and the Royals will square off in Game Three on Tuesday, April 18 at the Powerade Centre in Brampton. Game time is scheduled for 7:15PM.
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