For the second year in a row, the Maine Mariners will head to Pennsylvania needing to win two games to keep their season alive in the ECHL playoffs.

Reading scored twice early in the third period Wednesday night and held on to beat the Mariners 4-3 in Game 5 of their first-round series before a crowd of 2,412 at Cross Insurance Arena.

The Royals lead the best-of-seven series 3-2. Game 6 is Saturday night at Reading’s Santander Arena. If necessary, Game 7 would be Sunday afternoon.

“Obviously we have to win two, but we’re going to focus on Saturday,” said Mariners forward Curtis Hall. “We have some revenge to take in Reading. We’re going in with a different mindset. We beat these guys twice in a row, almost three times, so we know we can do it.”

A goal by Hall put the Mariners ahead 3-2 heading into the third period, leaving them 20 minutes from finishing a three-game sweep on their home ice after losing the first two games of the series in Reading.

Everything changed in the opening minutes of the third. Reading’s Max Newton converted the rebound of a Charlie Gerard shot to tie the game at 3 and the Royals nearly scored another 20 seconds later. A video review upheld the officials’ on-ice decision to wave off a potential go-ahead goal, however.


Even so, Reading continued to press the issue, and Jacob Gaucher delivered the winner by tipping a shot from the point past Maine goalie Francois Brassard with 14:32 remaining.

“We’re constantly harping on the starts of periods,” said Mariners Coach Terrence Wallin. “For the first six minutes of the third period, we fell asleep and pretty much gift-wrapped the game to them.”

Wallin pulled Brassard for an extra attacker in the final two minutes, which included a 6-on-4 power play, but Reading goalie Pat Nagle withstood the onslaught and the Royals left town with a 3-2 series lead.

Reading Coach James Henry was an assistant with the Royals a year ago when the exact same scenario played out, culminating in a series-ending Game 6 victory for the Royals in Pennsylvania.

“We only have a few players who were with the group last season, so there’s a much different feel,” he said, “but the way things are playing out now, it does feel similar.”

Brassard finished with 29 saves. Nagle, who rested Tuesday night while Maine skated to a 7-3 victory, made 40 saves.


The Mariners trailed 2-1 after one period. They took their only lead midway through the second period when Alex Kile found Hall in the slot.

Mitch Fossier scored from low in the right circle on a 5-on-3 power play earlier in the second, also set up by Kile, to tie the game.

For the fourth time in this series, the Royals struck first. Marc-Olivier Duquette couldn’t quite handle a pass from Kile in the attacking zone, and Gerard pounced on the turnover. He skated in and beat Brassard to the stick side less than three minutes into the game.

Maine tied it two minutes later when Tyler Hinam one-timed a centering pass from Cam Askew, who drew two Reading defenders on a 3-on-4 rush initiated by Hall.

The Royals went ahead 2-1 on a fluke goal by Newton, who chased down a stray puck along the end line and flung it back at the net, banking it in off Brassard.

Hinam said the Mariners will not be dwelling on last year’s loss at Reading, despite the obvious similarities.

“Just try to change the script,” he said. “We just proved we can beat them on back to back nights. We’ve got to go to Reading and do that now. There’s not really any other option.”

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