Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (loss, 13-10-1-0=27) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League and the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, were defeated by the Kalamazoo Wings (win, 14-9-0-2=30), 4-1, at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania.
Reading came out strong and battled back from an early second period deficit to earn a 1-1 tie half-way into the game, but the K-Wings took control at that point, scoring the game’s final three goals—including a third period power play goal which proved to be the dagger in the Royals’ collective heart—while Reading simply did not have the gas to keep up down the stretch. The loss for the Royals tied a team record for consecutive losses on home ice at five. In contrast, it was the K-Wings sixth straight win on the road.
The Royals and K-Wings came out in a spirited and scoreless first period, which featured a late period tilt between Reading’s Bryant Molle and Kalamazoo’s Ben Wilson.
Fifteen seconds into the second period, a clearing attempt by Ethan Cox behind the Royals’ net appeared to inadvertently hit a teammate and take a fortuitous bounce (for the K-Wings, at least) in front of the Royals’ net. Eric Kattelus stepped down the slot and took a swipe at the bouncing puck, causing it to flutter over the extended left arm of goaltender Riley Gill (loss, 9-6-0-0-, 22/26) for the game’s first goal.
Reading tied the game 8:26 into the second when Dustin Gazley powered his way out of the left wing corner, cut along the goal line, and forced his way to the top of the crease, where he slid the puck under goaltender Jordan Binnington (win, 9-5-0-0, 32/33) for his eighth of the year.
The K-Wings got what proved to be the game winner 15:27 into the second, when Ludwig Blomstrand found defenseman Sam Ftorek cutting down the slot. Ftorek, who had lots of time and space, drilled a high bullet by Gill for his fifth of the year.
Kalamazoo got some insurance on their only power play sequence of the game, when a double minor for slashing and unsportsmanlike conduct was assessed against Reading’s Doug Clarkson 4:57 into the third. While working on the back-end of the double minor, Ftorek settled in the high slot for a hot rivet that was blocked by Reading’s Louie Caporusso, who took it in the shin-pad, which understandably sent him tumbling the ice. The puck tumbled to the top of the right circle where Yanni Gourde turned, wheeled and fired for his eleventh of the year 7:25 into the third.
The K-Wings built the three goal lead when Matt Caria slipped a puck from the left side of the Royals crease that snuck between the legs of Gill and into the net for his fourth of the year 12:04 into the third. But by that point, this one had pretty much been decided as the Royals had only enough left in the tank to generate four total shots in the third, which was far to few to mount a credible comeback.
The Royals and K-Wings go at it again tomorrow (Saturday, December 28 @ 7:05 pm) when some lucky fan will win a trip for two to Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. for the Washington Capitals match-up against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday, March 2. The Royals will wear special retro-Capitals-styled jerseys, which will be sold starting at 10:30 pm after the game on the Royals web-store (www.royalshockey.com). The 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 on the Royals Broadcast Network presented by Boscov’s Travel and Apple Vacations.
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