The Richmond Royals have a chance to advance to the Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League semi-finals Sunday afternoon (March 12) at the Richmond Memorial Community Centre.
The Royals finished the regular season in first place in the EOJHL Martin Division after earning an overtime loss point against the Casselman Vikings. Richmond finished with 63 points while Casselman ended the season with 62. Both teams received a first round bye. The Ottawa Canadians earned the right to play the Royals as they knocked off the Ottawa West Golden Knights in straight games, while the Embrun Panthers needed double overtime to edge the Winchester Hawks in the third game of their best of three series.
Rest vs. Rust
The Royals were idle for a week as they awaited an opponent for their March 5 series opener. Despite a big and energetic crowd in Richmond, the Royals looked more rusted than rested. The Canadians scored two empty net goals in the final minute and won the first game of their best of seven series 4-1.
Matthew MacPherson scored early in the first period for the Canadians, and then Alex Lemieux scored less than five minutes into the second period to give Ottawa a 2-0 lead. The Royals got on the board at the 14:44 mark of the second period when Ryan Sullivan scored shorthanded from Michael Bernier and Shane Sullivan.
The third period was one of frustration for the Royals. The Canadians used a strong forecheck and bottled up the neutral zone. Five minutes into the third period, the Royals had a power play but failed to get a shot on goal. Tyler Cutts took a slashing penalty midway through the period, and no sooner had the Royals killed it off when Shane Sullivan was called for tripping just 16 seconds after Cutts got out of the penalty box. While the Canadians mounted no attack on the first power play, a tired Royals’ penalty killing unit was chasing the puck on the second Canadians power play. Two big saves from Richmond goalie Gabe Arrigo kept the Royals in the game.
With seven minutes remaining, the Royals got their best chance to tie the score as they went on the power play. Once again, the Canadians tied up the neutral zone and Felix Schnell made a big save to preserve the 2-1 lead.
With the Richmond net empty, the Canadians got goals in the final minute from Liam Kelleher and Patrick Larkin to make the final 4-1.
Royals Tie Series
Game 2 was played in Ottawa, and it took until the third period before the Royals got their offence going as they evened the series with a 2-1 win.
Tyler Vezina scored late in the first period to give Ottawa a 1-0 lead, and the score would remain that way until the third period.
Ryan Sullivan tied the score with a goal from Jackson Dallaire at 3:54. Three minutes later, Dallaire fed Sullivan for a second time to make the score 2-1. Royals goalie Mavric Welk shut the door the rest of the way and the Royals tied the series.
McElheran Gets A Hattie
On Wed., March 8, the series returned to Richmond. The Royals offence came to life as they cruised to a 7-3 win with the help of a hat trick by Sam McElheran.
After a scoreless first period, the Canadians scored two goals early in the second period as Liam Kelleher and Danik Marion beat goalie Mavric Welk.
With the score 2-0, things got a little bit greasy. Ottawa’s Max Lacroix and Richmond’s Cameron Donaldson each got two, five and a game as they squared off for scrap. The fight seems to spark some life in the Royals, as they responded with seven straight goals.
Robbie DiSilverstro scored from Brendan Lynch and Simon Yang, and then less then a minute later Reid Johnston got an unassisted goal to tie the score. Tyler Cutts put the Royals ahead 3-2 with a goal in the final minute of the second. Shane Sullivan and Sheldon Lyons drew assists.
In the third period, Sam McElheran put the Royals on his back and picked up a hat trick. McElheran, who had scored only four goals in 11 regular season games for the Royals, scored the first goal of the period from Drew Russett and Dylan Rorwick. It was the first point of the series for Rorwick, who led the team in scoring during the regular season.
DiSilvestro scored his second of the game from Lynch and Dallaire to make the score 5-2. McElheran added two more to complete the scoring. Cutts assisted the first, while Russett and Gage Bujold assisted the second.
The Royals had 63 shots on goal, which was their highest total of the season. Welk made 31 saves for the win.
Royals Take 3-1 Lead
On Saturday night, the Royals headed into Ottawa and earned a 4-3 win to take a 3-1 series lead.
After a scoreless first period, McElheran scored 24 seconds into the second period from Tyler Cutts to give Richmond a 1-0 lead.
The Canadians bounced back with goals from Joe Jordan and Patrick Larkin to go up 2-1, but the Royals countered with a power play goal as Cutts scored on the power play from Rorwick and Tyler Hames.
The Royals went up 4-2 in the final minute of the second period as Shane Sullivan scored a power play goal from Cutts, and Lyons scored from Hames.
In the third period, Danik Marion scored five minutes into the third period to pull the Canadians back to within as goal, but Welk shut the door the rest of the way for his third straight win.
The Royals have a chance to wrap up the series Sunday afternoon in Richmond. Face off is at 1:20 p.m.