Wheeling, WV – The Reading Royals (OTL, 10-6-1-0=21) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League and the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, were defeated in overtime by the Wheeling Nailers (12-5-0-3=27), 4-3, at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling, West Virginia.
Reading gave up the game’s first goal—and then proceeded to allow the first two power play goals against on the road of the season; but, nonetheless were able to battle back from three separate deficits on the strength of a three-point performance by Ryan Cruthers in his first game with the team since March of 2012 to pull out a point.
After a scoreless first, the Nailers struck 1:15 into the second when the Royals were coughed one up at the offensive blue-lien with four players charging into the offensive end. The resultant stretch pass from Ryan Flanigan sent Zach Torquato on a clean break and he buried it for his seventh of the season.
Reading tied the game at one 8:07 into the second, when Ryan Cruthers forced a turnover on a strong forecheck. Louie Caporusso took control at the left side of the Nailer net and slipped a clean, cross-crease pass to a waiting T.J. Syner who snuck in for the slam dunk and his fourth of the season.
The Nailers re-took the lead 13:02 into the second when they became the first team this season to score a road power play goal against the Royals (in 25 total chances). Ryan Flanigan got a clean look from the high slot. Brandon Anderson (OTL, 4-3-1-0, 28/32) made the save, but the rebound fell to mid-way into the left circle, where Barry Goers gained possession and slid a perfect diagonal down pass to the right side of the crease, where a wide open Tyler Fernandez slammed it home.
Reading tied the game for the second time 12:10 into the third when Ryan Kavanagh fired a shot off the right point and Ryan Cruthers caught a chunk of it on the way to deflect it by goaltender Mike Condon (win, 9-3-0-2, 24/27) for his first of the year—in his first game for Reading since March of 2012.
Wheeling re-took the lead at 3-2 with their second power play goal of the game, when Mike Ratchuk carried down the slot and slid a back-hand towards the net that ricocheted off the skate of a Reading defender and slipped under Anderson for his fourth of the year 14:31 into the third.
But Reading earned the team’s third tie of the game when Cruthers, who bagged a goal and two assists in the game, forced the puck to the right side of the net, where Caporusso (who had his third three-assist game of the year) slipped the puck to the left side of the net where Syner back-handed the puck home for his second of the night.
Wheeling ended it 1:59 into overtime, shortly after Caporusso had a point blank chance to end it for the Royals but hit Condon right between the eyes from eight feet out. Wheeling quickly counter-punched, catching the Royals in a bit of a bad change, allowing Ratchuk to walk in all alone to just above the dot in the left circle, where he uncorked a rocket over the left shoulder of Anderson for the OT GWG.
The Royals return to Santander Arena tomorrow (Saturday, December 7 @ 7:05 pm) where the team will face the Fort Wayne Komets. The first 2000 fans 15 years of age and older will receive the Yannick Tifu Kelly Cup Bobblehead giveaway courtesy of V&M Towing (first 2,000 – 15 and older); Scout Night & Youth Hockey Night; “Saturday Night Shoot for Cash” presented by Diamond Credit Union. Saturday’s game night broadcast on CBS Sports Radio 1240 am and 98.5 will kick off with the Highmark Blue Shield Warm-Up Show at 6:35 pm.
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