Kalamazoo, MI – The Reading Royals (loss, 23-14-1-0=47) 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, 22-15-1-2= 47), 3-2, at Wings Stadium in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Kalamazoo scored first and held two separate two-goal leads, but the Royals got goals by Julien Cayer and Kevin Walrod to get within one twice—but that was as close as Reading would get, as the Royals dropped the team’s third one-goal decision in Kalamazoo this season. Despite only generating twenty-four shots, the Royals had their chances, including a penalty shot awarded to Yannick Tifu in the latter stages of the second period, but weren’t able to get over on goaltender Joel Martin (win, 9-7-0-2, 22/24) for the second time in three days.
Just as with Reading’s 4-3 loss in Kalamazoo on Friday, the K-Wings struck first. Ray Kaunisto carried hard up the right wing side deep into the Royals’ defensive. While protecting his position with his left arm, he was able to shovel a one-hand pass to the side of Reading’s net, which goaltender Brandon Anderson (loss, 11-7-1-0, 32/35) had sealed off. However, the puck angled off Anderson’s stick to the low slot, where a crashing Brandon Martel stepped in and chipped the puck up and over the right arm of Anderson for his second of the year.
Kalamazoo took their first two goal lead of the game with just 0.2 left in the first. After a face-off in Reading’s defensive zone, which resulted from a late period icing infraction, the Wings gained possession of the puck in the left corner. As the remaining time in the period ticked down, Chris Lawrence slid a pass to the mid-slot where Matt Caria settled and fired on the buzzer, beating Anderson high blocker for his eighth of the year.
1:21 into the second, Reading cut the K-Wings’ lead in half, when Marvin Degon sprang Brandon Blandina into the offensive zone. Blandina dropped to the trailing Julien Cayer who fired a snapper from the top of the right circle that beat Martin high to the short-side for his second in two games—and third of the season
The K-Wings regained a two-goal advantage 14:03 into the second, shortly after the Royals created a flurry of scoring opportunities. Defenseman Michal Cajkovsky set up for a big blast at the top of the left circle, but as he fired, his stick snapped in half, allowing the K-Wings’ Dustin Cloutier to pick off the puck and initiate a three-on-one break. Cloutier fed Justin Taylor who cut into the deep slot in Reading’s defensive zone and drilled a hot blast that clanged off the cross-bar. The puck tumbled to the left side of the low slot, where Taylor quickly attacked and fired the rebound under and through Anderson, who dove hard to his right in and attempt to make the save.
1:12 after that, Yannick Tifu was awarded the second penalty shot in the Royals’ last three games (both against the K-Wings). On this one, Tifu tried to go backhand-forehand on Martin, but the Kalamazoo goaltender didn’t bite on the move and stuffed Tifu’s effort.
Reading cut the K-Wings lead to just one goal for a second time 14:36 into the third period. Mike Banwell freed a puck in the neutral zone for Cayer, who in turn fed a breaking Kevin Walrod. Walrod forced his way straight down the slot, and despite the fact that he was closely guarded, he was able to slide a backhand five-hole on Martin for his first as a Royal.
As with Friday in Kalamazoo, the Royals turned up the energy as the clock ticked down, creating several scoring flurries. Reading even got a late game power play, during which the team pulled the goaltender to make it six-on-four. But as time wound down on the chance with the man advantage, Reading took a penalty of their own, and, with that, the hope to stretch Anderson’s personal seven game win streak to eight faded to black.
The Royals return to action on Wednesday (January 29 @ 7:30 pm) when the Royals continue the team’s six game road trip at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio, against the Cincinnati Cyclones. As with all Royals’ road games this year, Wednesday’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 7:00 pm on the Royals Broadcast Network.
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