The Marquette Royales killed off a late penalty and survived a comeback attempt to defeat the Wisconsin Rapids River Kings 6-4 at Lakeview Arena on Friday night.
The Royales came out fast after Dave Landau received a warmup penalty and started the game in the penalty box. Ingus Matins was able to capitalize in the first minute giving the Royales a 1-0 lead.
Brooks Hatfield and Jimmy Coates tied the game up at 8:08 on a 2-on-1 breakaway.
The second period belonged to the Royales. Bryan Larson, a player with the Royales last season before signing in Brooklyn in the offseason, scored an unassisted goal on a counterattack to break the tie. Cameron Wirick then scored his 13 and 14 goal of the season to build up the lead to 4-1 at the end of the second.
“Got a great pass and shot it blocker side,” Wirick said. “That’s where we wanted to shoot at this goalie.”
Assistant Coach Jim Stanaway blamed the stretch on a break from physical play.
“(The Royales) stopped playing physical and the other team was able to go well. When we played physical we did well,” he said.
Riley Tilot forced a turnover at Marquette’s blue line, providing a 2-on-1 chance for Matins and Leonid Anikin. Matins set up the pass for Anikin, who put in the game winner. Anikin added an empty netter from in front of the scorer’s table with 15 seconds to go.
Anikin returned tonight from a two-game suspension to have two goals and two assists in the game. The performance gave him the Checker Transport Top Star of the Game.
“He’s a puck possession player,” Royales Head Coach Kevin Shupenia said. “He can really slow the puck the down.”
Luke Thurston had the victory for the Royales. He stopped 25 of 29 shots in 59:43. Tyler Martz had the loss, stopping 13 of 19 shots.
Marquette moves to 7-9-0-1 on the season, good enough for 15 points. The team have closed the gap between them and fourth place consistently after the slow start.
The two teams will end their three-game series tomorrow at 1 p.m. at Lakeview Arena.