Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (win, 21-12-1-0=43) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League and the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, defeated the Toledo Walleye (loss, 12-20-3-0=27), 5-4, at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania.
For the sixth consecutive game, Reading scored first and—similarly to last night—built a 4-0 lead over the Walleye before Toledo broke through. But unlike last night, in this one, Toledo kept breaking through until they made it a one goal game with 9:41 remaining in regulation, after which the Royals were able to regroup and hold the Walleye at bay to take the team’s sixth straight. Goaltender Carsen Chubak (win, 1-0-0-0, 36/30) didn’t see much action in the early going; but had to make some big stops down the stretch to notch a ‘W’ in his first game as a Royal.
Both teams came out hard in the first, but it wasn’t until 2:58 remained in the period that Reading was able to break through. Aaron Gens slipped a blind behind-the-back pass from behind the Walleye net to the right side of the crease, where Ethan Cox stepped in and swiped it home for his fifth of the season.
Reading blew things open with four in the second. The scoring started 2:16 into the period—four seconds into the Royals’ first power play chance of the night. Ryan Cruthers, who was playing in his 176th game as a Royal (tying the all-time team career record for games played) and ended up with three assists—won the offensive zone faceoff to the left point, where Michal Cajkovsky settled, walked the line and drilled a seeing-eye laser through traffic for this seventh of the year.
The Royals made it 3-0 4:52 into the second period—nineteen seconds after Cruthers came out of the penalty box—when Cruthers corralled a loose puck, and fired a tape-to-tape fifty-five foot stretch pass to a breaking Cox, who was off to the races. Cox didn’t waste the chance, firing the puck over goaltender Mac Carruth (loss, 4-7-0-0, 26/31) for his second of the night and sixth of the year.
Reading stretched the lead to 4-0 by capitalizing on the team’s second power play goal of the night. Again, it was Cruthers, who slipped a beautiful pass from the mid-slot to Yannick Tifu, who was cutting low on the left side. Tifu took the puck to what appeared to be an impossibly sharp angle and ripped a water-bottle-blasting a hot snapper high short side for his eleventh of the year.
15:07 into the second, Toledo’s Aaron Begosian converted a turnover in the Royals’ defensive zone into paydirt, as he cut through the low slot and chipped a back-hand over Chubak’s outstretched left arm for his first of the year.
Reading bounced back to re-gain the four goal advantage with what would prove to be the game winner with just 2:07 left in the second. Brett Flemming dangled through the slot and threaded a diagonal-down backhand pass to T.J. Syner cutting through the right circle towards the side of the Walleye net, where he stuffed it inside the pipe for his tenth of the year.
But that would be it for the Royals—and the next three would belong to the Walleye, who significantly turned up the heat in the third. The first came 4:23 into the third just two seconds after the conclusion of Toledo’s fourth power play chance of the night. After a mad scramble around Reading’s net, Max Shalunov forced a shot from the low left slot that deflected off a Royal and fluttered over Chubak and into the net.
The next came at 9:32 into the third. Again, it was Shalunov, who converted a neutral zone turnover into a break and a backhand-forehand stuff for his fourth of the season.
Toledo made the Royals’ faithful collective pulse hit over-drive forty-seven seconds later when Aaron Clarke fired one through several sliding Reading defenders from short range for his eighth of the year 10:19 into the final frame.
At that point, with 9:41 remaining in regulation time, Royals’ Coach Larry Courville called timeout, pulled the team together, and refocused the energy into a consistent and solid defensive effort to close out the game, which the Royals were able to do—but not without a few moments of trepidation and a couple of big saves by Chubak. Nonetheless, the Royals did hold off the Walleye and hold on for the team’s fifth straight win on home ice, where Reading is now 10-8-0-0.
The Royals return to action on Monday (January 20 @ 1:05 pm) when the Royals will face the Elmira Jackals in the team’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday game. That day, fans get two free kids tickets with the purchase of a single adult ticket. There will also be $2.00 parking courtesy of the Reading Parking Authority. It is also a Berks Packing Dollar Day with $1.00 hot dogs, popcorn, nachos, and soda. The first 1000 adults 55 and older will receive a gym bag courtesy of Reading Health System. On Monday, the Royals will wear special jerseys honoring the team’s AHL affiliate, Hershey Bears, which will be sold after the game on the Royals’ website. 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 12:35 pm on the Royals Broadcast Network.
End 14 01-18