Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (loss, 28-18-1-1=58) 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 Wheeling Nailers (win, 25-20-1-5= 56), 4-1, at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania.
The Royals spotted the Nailers to an early 1-0 lead after a terrible defensive zone meltdown and, from that point forward, weren’t able to solve Wheeling goaltender Mike Condon (win, 16-11-0-4, 30/31) until it was far too late—midway into the third with the team trailing 3-0. The Royals, who started the season 6-0-1-0 against Wheeling, are 1-3-0-0 in their last four games against the Nailers—all four of which have come in Reading’s last seven played.
A complete defensive zone devolution 2:23 into the first period allowed Wheeling’s Carter Rowney to walk down the middle of the slot and drill a hard snap shot low stick side on goaltender Brandon Anderson (loss, 14-8-1-0, 18/22) for his eighth of the year.
Reading created some offensive pressure in the second and, at one point, was outshooting the Nailers 13-3. But with just 3:20 left in the period, Wheeling defender Dustin Stevenson snapped a harmless looking shot from the left point that Tyler Fernandez deflected behind Anderson for his seventh of the season to make it 2-0, Wheeling.
1:12 into the third, an untimely turnover at the defensive blue line, resulted in a counter-punch two-on-none for the Nailers, with Zach Torquato feeding Cody Sylvester for a velvety forehand-backhand five-hole goal to make it 3-0.
Reading broke through 7:32 into the final frame with the team’s eighth short-handed goal of the year. T.J. Syner slipped by the defensive blue-line, charged down the left wing side, carried deep into the offensive end, and slipped a cross-crease pass to Brandon Blandina, who came in hot on the net drive for his fourth of the year.
Wheeling re-gained the three goal advantage 11:07 into the third while working on the front end of a double-minor assessed against Julien Cayer for high sticking. Rowney slipped a beautiful pass from below the goal line to the low left slot, where Denver Manderson found a soft seam, stepped in, and drilled a snapper behind Anderson for his seventh of the year.
From that point forward, the Nailers continued to neutralize the attack of the Royals who were held to one goal (or less) for the tenth time this season (0-9-0-1).
The Royals return to action on Friday (February 21 @ 7:05 pm) when the team travels to The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Georgia, to take on the Gwinnett Gladiators for the first time this year. 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 ET on the Royals Broadcast Network. Friday’s game will also be televised locally in Berks County, Pennsylvania on BCTV courtesy of Boscov’s Travel and Apple Vacations.
End 14 02-19