Elmira, NY – The Reading Royals (win, 27-16-1-0=55) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League and the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, defeated the Elmira Jackals (loss, 18-23-2-3= 41), 4-3, at First Arena in Elmira, New York.
The Jackals dominated the early going and led the Royals 2-0 after one period; but the Royals got a five-on-three PPG and an even strength goal in the second to head to the third tied at two. In the final frame, the Jackals got the first goal, but the Royals would get the last laugh, tying the game forty-five seconds later and then getting a tie-breaking game winner on a highlight reel move by defenseman Michal Cajkovsky. Goaltender Riley Gill (win 12-9-0-0, 36/39) made more than one highlight reel save of his own—particularly in an overwhelming push by the Jackals in the final five minutes of the game. The win, which pushed the Royals’ record to eleven games over .500 for the first time this year, ran the Royals record to 9-2-0-0 against Elmira and 5-0-0-0 at First Arena this season.
Elmira dictated the pace in the first twenty minutes outshooting Reading 18-8. The Jackals struck 13:42 into the first on a perfectly executed pass-off-pad blast from the top of the right circle by Patch Alber with Ludwig Karlsson finishing from the top of the left circle off the rebound from goaltender Gill’s right leg pad.
Fifty-three seconds later the Jackals took a 2-0 lead when Danny Hobbs found a soft seam four feet above the right hash mark for a hot snapper that beat Gill to the glove side for his twelfth of the year.
Reading broke through thirty-two seconds into an extended five-on-three power play 8:24 into the second period when Cajkovsky weaved his way through the slot and slipped a left-to-right cross-crease pass to the waiting Ryan Cruthers, who buried from the weak side for his eleventh of the year.
The Royals tied the game at two 12:17 into the second after Kevin Walrod powered his way through the slot; and, as he was taken down and falling on his face, he was able to force the puck to the top of the crease, where Josh Brittain had the inside track and was able to slide the puck under the right pad of Scott Greenham (loss, 8-12-1-2, 22/26) for his fifth of the year.
Elmira re-took the lead at 3-2 2:53 into the third when Jordan Pietrus charged deep into the right circle and ripped a water bottle blaster over the left shoulder of Gill for his seventh of the year.
Reading responded forty-five seconds later when Brandon Blandina slipped a hook to his arm as he carried through the right circle and snapped one under Greenham for his third of the year.
The Royals got what proved to be the game winner, when Cruthers—who now has 199 career points as a Royal (66g-133a in 185 games)—sprang Cajkovsky down the left wing side into the offensive zone. Cajkovsky went outside-in to undress an Elmira defender and was able to snap a back-hand across the body of Greenham for his ninth of the year with just 7:18 remaining.
From there it was pretty much all Elmira. But the Royals survived the late-game onslaught to run the team’s road record to 15-7-0-0.
Reading returns to action on Friday (February 14 @ 7:00 pm) when the team travels to WesBanco Arena in Wheeling, West Virginia to face the Wheeling Nailers. 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 6:30 pm ET on the Royals Broadcast Network. As with all Royals’ road games this year, Friday’s game will be televised live locally in Berks County, Pennsylvania, on BCTV courtesy of Boscov’s Travel and Apple Vacations.
End 14 02-12