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Royals Bounce Back for Come-Back Win Over Wheeling, 5-3

Sunday, February 9th
Royals Bounce Back for Come-Back Win Over Wheeling, 5-3

Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (win, 26-16-1-0=53) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League and the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, defeated the Wheeling Nailers (loss, 21-19-1-5= 48), 5-3, at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania.

For only the third time in the last fifteen games for Reading, the opposition (Wheeling) struck first; but in distinct contrast to the loss to Wheeling on Saturday, it was the Royals who would come back in this one, tying the game on a power play goal late in the first and then taking two separate leads in the second before closing out the Nailers with a strong third period. The victory pushed the Royals record this season to 7-1-1-0 against Wheeling—and 15-3-1-0 in the Atlantic Division so far this season.

Wheeling broke through 11:53 into the first on a beautiful play by the Nailers’ Sahir Gill, who carried left to right behind the Royals net, but, as he was cutting around the net, was somehow able to slip a pass back towards the low left portion of the slot. Everyone, including goaltender Brandon Anderson (win, 13-7-1-0, 17/20), thought that Gill (and the puck) would be coming out on the other side, so Jack MacLellan was able to slip into the left side of the crease for an easy tap in to give the Nailers their only lead of the game.

Reading tied the game on the team’s first power play chance 15:13 into the first. Ryan Cruthers, who would end up with three assists on the night, fed Sean Wiles in the left corner, and Wiles in turn slid a diagonal up pass through the box to the right circle, where defenseman Michal Cajkovsky stepped in and hammered a blast by goaltender Mike Condon (loss, 14-11-0-4, 25/29, 1eng in 58:46) for his eighth of the year.

The Royals took the team’s first lead of the game 2:15 into the second when Domenic Monardo fired a snap shot off the wide left wing side that somehow snuck through for Monardo’s thirteenth of the year.

But the Nailers quickly tied things up at two with their third short-handed goal in two games against the Royals, when Dustin Stevenson freed Denver Manderson for a break while the Nailers were playing a man short. Manderson ripped a blast out of the right circle over the left circle of Anderson 4:37 into the second for his second shorty in two days and fourth of the year.

Reading bounced back to take the team’s second lead of the second period, when Cruthers sprang Wiles with a stretch pass to the offensive blue line. Wiles turned on the jets and blew by everyone, finishing with a solid backhand-forehand move as he was cutting left to right across the top of the crease for his twelfth of the year.

The Royals got what proved to be the game winner 6:04 into the third on another beautiful goal off the rush—this one by defenseman Marvin Degon, who charged down the left wing side into Wheeling’s end, made a sharp cut at the face-off dot to gain the low slot, where—as he cut left to right—he shot back against the grain on Condon for his fourth of the year.

Wheeling made it a one-goal game again (at 4-3) with a power play goal 15:43 into the third. Max MacKay set one on a tee at the top of the left circle for Mike Ratchuk who stepped into an absolute bullet that blew over the shoulder of Anderson and into the net for his eighth of the year.

The Nailers pushed as time ticked down, but were forced to pull the goaltender late in a last gasp effort to tie the game. Reading iced things on a long shot into the empty cage by Julien Cayer with 20.8 seconds remaining in regulation to win for the seventh time in the last eight games on home ice (12-9-0-0).

The Royals return to action on Wednesday (February 12 @ 7:05 pm) when the team kicks off a four-game in five-day sequence against the Elmira Jackals at First Arena in Elmira, New York. 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. As with all Royals’ road games this year, Wednesday’s game will be televised live locally in Berks County, Pennsylvania, on BCTV courtesy of Boscov’s Travel and Apple Vacations.

End 14 02-09