Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (win, 32-19-1-1=66) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League and the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, defeated the South Carolina Stingrays (loss, 33-16-2-3= 71), 4-0, at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania.
The Royals got back-to-back goals thirty-five seconds apart within the first minute of the second period and Brandon Anderson (win, 17-8-1-0, 33/33) made thirty-three saves—including sixteen in a strong third period push from South Carolina—to knock off the top team in the East in the third and final match-up of the regular season between the two clubs (2-1-0-0). Reading added a couple of third period goals, while circling the wagons for the third shutout of the year for Anderson, who has won thirteen of his last fifteen decisions for the Royals.
After a physical, but scoreless, first in which Reading outshot South Carolina 13-8, the Royals struck on the team’s first shot of the second nineteen seconds into the period. Michal Cajkovsky sprang Josh Brittain on the left wing side through the neutral zone. Brittain carried to the top of the left circle, where he ripped a bullet across the body of goaltender Allen York (loss, 1-2-1-0, 28/32) into the upper right corner of the net. For Brittain that was his ninth of the year—in nineteen games with the Royals—and proved to be his team-leading fourth game winner of the year.
Thirty-five seconds later, Reading got some insurance on a mirror-image goal by Brett Flemming. On this one, Kevin Walrod carried into the South Carolina end on the right side and time out a perfect drop pass to the trailing Flemming, who cut off the right wing side towards the high slot where he fired a hard snap shot between the legs of a Stingray defender and over the right shoulder of York for his sixth of the year.
Reading added another 9:25 into the third when Ethan Cox dislodged a South Carolina defenseman of the puck with a heavy hit on the end wall. Jesse Todd gained possession behind the Stingray net and slipped a pass out front to the waiting Julien Cayer. Despite being well-guarded, Cayer was able to snap one behind York from in tight for his sixth of the year.
The Royals took a 4-0 lead with 6:08 left in regulation, when Domenic Monardo stole off the forecheck and fed Ryan Cruthers who was supporting from just inside the offensive blue line. Cruthers quickly fired the puck towards the net. York made the save on that shot, but the rebound fell out front where T.J. Syner was wide open and all alone. Syner quickly fired, and York rejected that one as well—but on the third effort, Syner punched it through for his fifteenth of the year.
South Carolina continued to push, but Anderson and the Royals answered the attack to pick up the team’s fifteenth home win of the year (15-10-0-1).
Tomorrow (Saturday, March 1 @ 7:00 pm), the Royals travel to Wheeling, West Virginia, where the team will face the Wheeling Nailers at WesBanco Arena. Saturday’s game night broadcast will kick off at 6:30 pm 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. Saturday’s game will be televised locally in Berks County, Pennsylvania, on BCTV courtesy of Boscov’s Travel and Apple Vacations.
End 14 02-28