Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (win, 16-12-1-0=33) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League and the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, defeated the Wheeling Nailers (loss, 15-11-1-5=36), 6-2, at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania.
For only the fourth time in the last sixteen games, Reading scored first and stretched the team’s lead to 4-0 before Wheeling broke through with a pair late in the second period. But the Royals countered with a pair in the third—including a short-handed empty-netter that completed the hattrick for Sean Wiles—to run away from the Nailers and put a notch in the win column for the first time in 2014. In seven games played against Wheeling so far (and eight more to go), the Royals have compiled a record of 6-0-1-0.
Reading struck on the team’s second power play opportunity of the game, when defenseman Michal Cajkovsky stepped into the left circle and blew a hard blast by Wheeling goaltender Brooks Ostergard (loss, 0-3-1-0, 30/35, 1 eng) for his sixth of the year 12:42 into the first period.
The Royals built the lead to 2-0 with just 4.3 seconds left in the first. Matt Campanale carried the puck into the offensive end and slipped a pass below the goal line to Yannick Tifu, who would end up with four assists on the night. Tifu threaded a pass back up into the mid-slot, where Sean Wiles floated in and ripped one high glove side on Ostergard for the first of what would prove to be three on the night.
Wiles got what proved to be the game winner 3:48 into the second. On this one, Bryant Molle sprang Ryan Cruthers, who had a three point night (2g-1a), down the right wing side. Cruthers set one on a tee in the low slot for Wiles, who charged down the middle and one-timed a bullet bar-and-in over the right arm of Ostergard for his sixth of the year.
Cruthers pushed the Royals lead to 4-0 when he scored the first of what would be two on the night 8:45 into the second. Cajkovsky snapped one off from the left half-wall that Tifu redirected on the way in, causing Ostergard to mis-handle the puck to the right side of the crease, where Cruthers was set for the easy slam dunk and his sixth of the year.
Max MacKay broke up the shutout bid of Royals’ goaltender Brandon Anderson (win, 5-6-0-1, 23/25) 16:13 into the second period. Sahir Gill battled for a loose puck at the right side of the Royals’ net; and, as Anderson went down trying to corral the puck, Gill chipped the puck over Anderson and into the crease where Max MacKay crashed and slashed a back-hand into the net for his sixth of the year.
Wheeling’s Chaz Johnson cut the Royals’ lead to 4-2 with a goal that came with just 57 seconds left in the second period. Reading coughed one up in the neutral zone, allowing MacKay to spring Johnson on a break into the offensive end. Johnson fired a low, hard shot out of the left circle that slipped under Anderson for his fifth of the year.
Reading played a solid and physical style in the early stages of the third period that kept the Nailers at bay for the most part. The Royals rebuilt the lead to three at 5-2 on Cruthers’ second of the game with 2:49 left in regulation. Wiles gained possession deep on the left side and found Tifu joining the zone late with a pass to the top of the left circle. Tifu slipped a diagonal down wrist pass towards the right side of the crease, where Cruthers angled the puck in for his tenth point in his last five games (5g-5a).
With time winding down, Wiles fired a 120 foot shot into an empty net while the Royals were playing a man short with just 13 seconds left to become the first Royal this season to record a hattrick. For Wiles, tonight’s four point (3g-1a) plus-5 performance pushed his point streak to six games (5g-9a=14a).
The Royals return to action on Friday (January 10, 2013 @ 7:05 pm) when the team travels to First Arena in Elmira, New York, to face the Elmira Jackals for the first of what will be three games in three days (two in Elmira and the third, on Sunday, back at Santander Arena). 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. Friday’s game, as with all Royals’ road games this season, will be televised locally in Berks County, Pennsylvania, on BCTV courtesy of Boscov’s Travel and Apple Vacations.
End 14 01-08