Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (Loss, 10-9-1-0=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 by the Elmira Jackals (Win, 9-11-0-2=20), 3-2, at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania.
The Royals looked marvelous—in their now world famous ‘Ugly Holiday Sweater’ jerseys—but didn’t play well enough to snap what is now a five game winless streak (0-4-1-0). In a see-saw battle that saw Elmira end up on top, Elmira scored early, and the Royals made the quick work getting the fans to cover the ice with stuffed animals on the Teddy Bear Toss night. But, as with Florida on Friday, every time the Royals, tied the game, the opposition found a way to regain—and ultimately retain—the lead.
For the seventh straight game, Reading gave up the game’s first goal. This time it came off a shot from the top of the right circle by Elmira’s Ludwig Karlsson that pinballed off a couple bodies and fell to the skates of Jordan Pietrus at the right side of the crease. Pietrus kicked the puck cross-crease to a waiting Christain Ouellet, who got just enough of it to force it over the goal line for his second of the year 3:16 into the first period.
1:39 later, Ryan Cruthers made the teddy bears rain from on high when he cut down the middle of the slot and took a pass from below the goal line by Yannick Tifu and slipped it underneath Elmira’s Maxime Clermont (win, 4-5-0-1, 26/28) for his second of the year.
Elmira regained the lead 12:46 into the first when Karlsson fed Zach McCullough at the left point for a hard low shot. Royals’ goaltender Riley Gill (loss, 6-5-0-0, 35/38) made the save with his left pad, but the rebound fell directly to Ouellet who had all sorts of time to bury it bar-and-in from in tight for his second of the game.
Reading re-tied the game at two 12:51 into the second period, when Gill caught the Jackals in a change and fired a perfect 120 foot pass to the offensive blue-line to a waiting Yannick Tifu, who was joined on a clean two-on-none with Louie Caporusso. Tifu and Caporusso worked give-and-go with Tifu finishing underneath Clermont for his fourth of the year.
Elmira responded 43 seconds later when Reading’s forwards pushed and got caught deep in the offensive zone below the puck. The Jackals charged into the Royals’ zone four abreast with numbers and with the last man in, defenseman Kyle Bushee, taking the cross-ice feed from Matt Carter fifteen feet off the top of the crease for a low blocker bullet that would prove to be the game winner.
The Royals, who would end up with only one power play chance on the night—despite the protestations of the partisan home crowd (Elmira had five), had their chances, but seemed to run low on gas in the latter stages of the third when the Jackals took the air of the game with a text-book road rope-a-dope, dropping Reading to the team’s fourth straight loss on home ice.
The Royals are off until Friday (December 20, 2013 @ 8:00 pm) when the team will travel to the Allen County War Memorial Arena to face the Fort Wayne Komets in a two-game series. 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 7:30 pm.
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