READING, Mass. – On Wednesday, Reading was a step faster, hit a G-force harder, and more sound fundamentally as the No. 19 Rockets cruised past Burlington, 6-1, at Burbank Ice Arena.
The Rockets scored the first three goals and finished off the Red Devils with three goals in a 3-minute, 2-second span in the third.
Jake Barbera led Reading with two goals and an assist. Liam O'Neill had a goal and an assist and Ian Lapham turned aside 21 shots for his second win of the season.
“I'm thrilled to get off to a 2-0 start,” Reading coach Mark Doherty said. “Truthfully, I didn't what to except at the start [of the season] with the massive turnover.”
The bulk of Reading’s goals came off of Burlington turnovers or converted rebounds. Both of Barbera's goals were cleaned up rebounds and Reading's first goal, scored by Rob DiLoreto, was initiated after O'Neill picked off a pass at the blue line to start an odd-man rush.
Burlington coach Bob Conceison said that it was a bad day for his team.
“We're definitely inexperienced but so isn't Reading. I thought they played really really well. I have to go home and decide if it was more how poorly we played or how well they played. I'm sure it was a combination of the two.
“We have to try to make more plays. We're reluctant to make more plays offensively and I think we have to make more plays.”
Burlington scored with eight seconds left in the second period to make it a 3-1 game at the intermission, but a controversial goal early in the third gave momentum back to Reading.
After, what looked like a stop, a shot by Matt Thomson something that sounded like a whistle blew but the referee immediately called the play a goal. Burlington complained and Conceison was incensed, but the goal stood and it took the wind out of Burlington's sails.
“I heard a whistle,” Conceison said. “ I think it was more emotion on my part; I can't see from the bench how it went in. I thought the whistle blew before the puck went in. My guys were saying the puck didn't go in. We didn't lose the game because of that. I felt it was more of a momentum thing. We got that goal at the end of the period and thought we could jump back into the game.”
DEFENSIVE SUCCESS: Reading only had five more shots than Burlington, but it seemed like a whole lot more because the Rockets' defense forced Burlington into numerous low-percentage shots.
An inexperienced defensive group was aided by strong two-way play by the forwards and it made for a mostly easy night for Lapham in goal.
“We've got a very young set of defensmen so we're doing everything we can to help out in the D zone,” Barbera said. “We just want to have a three-zone team.”
After surrendering three goals against Wilmington in the season opener, Doherty said he was pleased with his team's performance in their own end.
“Truthfully, I thought our D looked noticeably better tonight than it did against Wilmington,” Doherty said. “ I drew that as an area of improvement.”