BY: Ray Schmitt, Voice of the Greenville Road Warriors
The Road Warriors and Reading Royals battled in an intense, playoff-style contest on Saturday night with Greenville ultimately falling by a 1-0 count. The loss dropped Greenville to 32-20-4 on the season.
In his first regular season game with the Road Warriors in over a year, Blake Parlett set up a couple of solid scoring chances in the first period. The chances were thwarted by some nifty pad work by Reading goalie Jussi Rynnas. On the first shift of the game Parlett dished to Sean Berkstresser whose snap shot from close range on the right wing was snuffed out. Then in the final minute Parlett worked a give-and-go with Jeff Prough, but Prough was robbed by Rynnas’ right pad. Road Warriors goalie Jason Missiaen nearly matched Rynna’s save-for-save but Olivier Labelle hit pay-dirt with a wrist shot at 4:24 to give Reading a 1-0 lead that stood up through the stanza.
Missiaen and Rynnas turned in a goaltending clinic in the second period as they took turns one-upping each other with big save after big save. Rynnas turned in multiple five-star stops within the first few minutes of the stanza as the Road Warriors came out buzzing looking for the tying goal. The best was when he went post-to-post to rob a backdoor attempt by Justin Bowers. Missiaen was equally impressive in stopping 11 Reading attempts in the second. In one sequence he stopped a near point-blank slap shot by Matt Caruana then lunged to his left to steal away what looked like a goal for Ryan Cruthers on the rebound. He also turned in a couple timely saves in a late period power play for Reading to ensure Greenville remained within one heading into the third.
Greenville kept the pedal to the metal in the third in an effort to find the tying goal, but even a late power play and a 6-on-4 skater advantage, the Road Warriors could not find a way to beat Rynnas. The Royals appeared to have taken a 2-0 lead early in the frame, but Olivier Labelle was ruled to have deflected the puck in with a high stick. The Road Warriors remained within striking distance and when Labelle went off for slashing with 1:30 to play the proverbial turkey was on the table. Despite a furious surge of chances, the Road Warriors could not find the tying goal and suffered the one-goal setback.
Missiaen posted 26 saves while shouldering the loss. The Road Warriors went 0-for-5 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill.
Mark your calendars! The Road Warriors return home on Friday, March 2, 2012 to take on the South Carolina Stingrays at 7:35. Join the Road Warriors for their second-annual Pink in the Rink presented by Greenville Hospital System to benefit the Mary Kay Foundation. The Road Warriors will be wearing pink-themed jerseys, skating on pink ice, and doing much more to raise money and awareness in the fight against breast cancer. Book your group of 10 or more in advance to get discounts off the box office price and preferred seating based on availability. Call 864-674-PUCK (7825) to book your group outing. Also, please note that the Road Warriors game scheduled for March 1 has been moved to Saturday, March 3 at 7:05 p.m. at the BI-LO Center. Visit Greenvilleroadwarriors.com for more information.