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Royals Take Front End of Two Game Set in Evansville, 5-2

Friday, January 31st
Royals Take Front End of Two Game Set in Evansville, 5-2

Evansville, Indiana – The Reading Royals (win, 24-15-1-0=49) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League and the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, defeated the Evansville Icemen (loss, 21-11-3-5= 50), 5-2, at Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana.

Reading struck first and built a four goal lead on goals from four different players before the Icemen broke through for a pair. An empty netter by Yannick Tifu with 1:08 remaining iced the victory for Reading, who pushed the team’s record to 2-3-0-0 on the current road trip with one more to go—tomorrow in Evansville—before returning home. The win pushed the Royals’ record to 3-0-0-0 in Evansville over the last two seasons since the Icemen joined the ECHL. With the victory, Reading, who is also 4-0-0-0 historically against the Fort Wayne Komets in Fort Wayne, remained perfect in the state of Indiana.

For the twenty-fourth time this season (20-4-0-0), Reading struck first. Josh Brittain cut towards the slot with a strong move through the right circle and slid a pass towards the top of the crease, where T.J. Syner was driving the net. Syner angled the puck up and over the right are of goaltender Mike Clemente (loss, 13-4-0-4, 27/31) 8:20 into the first period for his twelfth of the season, which is tied for the team lead with Domenic Monardo and Yannick Tifu.

Reading took a 2-0 lead 17:30 into the first, when Julien Cayer stepped out of the penalty box and took Kevin Walrod’s feed on the fly in the center circle out of his skates and broke into the Evansville end. Cayer drilled a hot snapper low blocker on Clemente for his four of the season—and third in his last four games.

The Royals gained a three goal advantage 4:28 into the second directly off a face-off. Brittain fired right as the puck was dropped for the draw in the left circle of the offensive end and slipped it through Clemente, who got a chunk of the puck, but not enough to keep it above the goal line. For Brittain, it was his fourth goal in six games with Reading.

1:57 later, Reading pushed the lead to four, when Jesse Todd forced off the forecheck on the end wall and cause a turnover that saw the puck flutter to the low slot, where Ethan Cox settled and quickly went forehand-backhand to stuff the puck under Clemente for his seventh of the year.

Evansville broke through 13:58 into the second, when a massive scrum ensued on the left half-wall in the Royals defensive zone. The puck popped free, and Evansville’s Matt Schepke beat everyone to the puck as it slid through the left circle and into the mid-slot. Royals’ goaltender Brandon Anderson (win, 12-7-1-0, 25/27) came out with the intent to poke the puck away, but it was never close enough him to get at it; and after Anderson went down, Schepke had an easy back-hand into the open side of the net for his fourteenth of the year.

The Icemen drew within two 12:12 into the third, when Tyler Hinds fired a snap shot from the deep left point that was flying about four feet off the ice until it hit someone on the way in, causing the puck to dip down and under the catching arm of Anderson for Hinds’ second of the year.

Down by two, Evansville pulled out all the stops down the stretch, but the Royals held strong defensively and iced the game in waning moments, when Yannick Tifu stole the puck off the stick of an Evansville defender in Reading’s offensive zone and slid it into the empty net for his twelfth of the year.

The Royals and Icemen go at it again tomorrow (Saturday, February 1 @ 8:15 ET pm) when Reading completes the team’s season long six game road trip at Ford Center in Evansville. As with all Royals’ road games this year, Saturday’s game will be televised locally in Berks County, Pennsylvania, on BCTV courtesy of Boscov’s Travel and Apple Vacations. 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 7:45 pm ET on the Royals Broadcast Network.

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