PORTLAND, ME – April 26, 2023 – Despite carrying a 3-2 lead into the third period, the Mariners came up a goal short in a 4-3 loss to the Reading Royals in the fifth game of the North Division Semifinals on Wednesday Night at the Cross Insurance Arena. Reading will take a 3-2 series lead back home for Game 6 on Saturday night.
The Royals struck first in the game at 2:51 when Charlie Gerard split through the middle and skated in on a breakaway, beating Francois Brassard stick side for an early Reading lead. The Mariners didn’t take long to answer, as at 5:01, Cam Askew outmuscled the Reading defense and spotted an open Tyler Hinam across the slot for a one-timer to tie the game. At 13:58 of the first, the Royals jumped back ahead on a goal from Max Newton, deflecting one off a Mariners defender and past a surprised Brassard.
The Mariners flipped the game into their favor with a pair of second period goals. Capitalizing on a 5-on-3, Mitch Fossier one-timed a pass from Alex Kile between the pads of Pat Nagle at 8:50 of the 2nd to make it 2-2. The special teams converted again to put the Mariners into the lead at 11:25. This time at 4-on-4, Curtis Hall was the trailer on a 3-on-2 rush and taking a pass from Kile, beat Nagle in the slot to give Maine the edge through 40 minutes.
Newton scored a key goal just 47 seconds into the third, also at 4-on-4, when his backhand rebound got between the pads of Brassard to tie the game back up. Moments later, the Royals appeared to take the lead but Devon Paliani was ruled to have interfered with Brassard and the goal was disallowed. The Royals took the lead for real at 5:28, when Jacob Gaucher tipped Will MacKinnon’s shot past Brassard. The Mariners made a valiant effort to try and get the game even, receiving a late power play thanks to a slashing penalty, but Nagle made some keys saves at the end to preserve the victory.
Nagle ended up stopping 40 of 43 Mariners shots, including 21 in the third period alone. Brassard stopped 29 of 33, suffering his first loss of the series. The Mariners now must win Game 6 in Reading on Saturday to keep their season alive.