BRAMPTON, ONTARIO – With Brampton Beast captain Brandon Marino lying flat on the ice after receiving a high-stick in the dying minutes of the third period, Reading Royals forward Ryan Penny took advantage of the extra ice and walked in over the blue line and fired home the eventual game-winner as the Royals outlasted the Beast for a 3-2 victory, evening the North Division Semifinal at two games apiece at the Powerade Centre on Thursday night.
Jordan Henry and Brandon MacLean each found the back of the net for Brampton, while Beast starter Zach Fucale was steady between the pipes with a 27-save performance.
After an evenly balanced start to the game, it was the Royals who pulled ahead late in the opening period. Olivier Labelle snuck out from behind the goal tucked home his first goal of the postseason at 17:55.
The Royals outshot the Beast 15-8 in the opening 20 minutes of play.
The Beast found their legs in the second period and got on the board at the 12:44 mark. Jordan Henry got the puck along the right wing boards just inside the blue line and sent his patented snap shot toward the goal. The puck miraculously avoided the crowd in front of Royals starter Mark Dekanich and beat the goaltender over the blocker, sending the Powerade Centre crowd into a frenzy as the Beast tied the game at 1-1.
The score remained tied until the early moments of the third period when Robbie Czarnik capitalized on a broken play and beat Fucale just 57 seconds into the period to help Reading regain the lead.
Their lead was short lived as the Beast surged back to tie the game less than four minutes later. Brandon MacLean got a stick on a hard point shot off the stick of Jordan henry and perfectly redirected the puck beyond Dekanich at 4:55.
With time running out in the third period, Penny stepped in over the blue line and rifled a slap into the Beast net at 14:35.
The Beast applied furious pressure in the final minutes of play with Fucale on the bench and fired several shots against the Reading goal but none found the back of the net as the Royals held on to even the series.
Notes: Molson Three Stars: 3) Henry (BRM) 2) MacLean (BRM) 1) Penny (REA). The Beast finished the game 0-for-1 on the man advantage and 2-for-3 on the penalty kill. The Beast will seek their revenge on Saturday night as they return to face the Royals in Game Five at the Powerade Centre. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:30PM.
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