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Royals Late Game Flurry Falls Short in Wheeling, 4-2

Friday, February 14th
Royals Late Game Flurry Falls Short in Wheeling, 4-2

Wheeling, WV – The Reading Royals (loss, 27-17-1-0=55) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League and the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, were defeated by the Wheeling Nailers (win, 23-19-1-5= 52), 4-2, at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling, West Virginia.

Reading struck first, but the Nailers responded quickly and got two more in a dominating attack in the second period to take a 3-1 lead to the third, where goaltender Riley Gill (loss, 12-10-0-0, 37/40, 1 eng) made a spectacular save on a breakaway right off the hop, giving his teammates the chance to mount a comeback. The Royals got a third period goal from Josh Brittain—his second of the game—to get within one, and Reading generated several Grade-A chances in the late game push; but just came up short.

The Royals scored on the team’s first power play chance of the night 3:39 into the game. After a wild flurry of scoring chances, the puck ended up at the left point where defenseman Michal Cajkovsky snapped one into the pile out in front of the Wheeling net. Kevin Walrod won the puck battle and slipped the puck to the left side of the crease, where Brittain slipped it for his sixth of the year.

Wheeling responded in relative quick order—1:40 late on a multi-rebound chance from in tight. Dustin Stevenson shot from the left point. Gill made the stop through traffic and the puck fell to the top of the crease, where Carter Rowney had the inside track. Gill rejected Rowney’s bid, too; but the puck slid to the low right slot where Sahir Gill had an easy put back for his tenth of the season.

Early in the second, Zach Torquato sprang Denver Manderson with a long stretch pass from deep in the defensive zone to a slashing through the neutral zone. Manderson was off to the races, cutting left to right across the top of the crease and stuffing the puck under Gill for his fifth of the season.

Wheeling took a 3-1 lead 8:50 into the second period with the four-on-three power play goal. After an extended sequence of offensive zone puck possession, Rowney got a clean look out deep in the right circle and drilled it over the left shoulder of Gill for his eight of the season.

Reading made a game of it 11:07 into the third, when Domenic Monardo carried off the rush deep into the right circle. Monardo forced a shot off that was blocked, but the rebound fell towards the goal line deep on the right side, where Brittain took control and quickly roofed it short-side on goaltender Mike Condon (win, 15-11-0-4, 28/30) for his second of the game and seventh of the season.

The Royals had their chances down the stretch. Notable chances included Ryan Cruthers getting stoned on a point blank put-back chance at the top of the crease off a rebound with about six and a half minutes left; and Brett Flemming clanging the cross-bar with about thirty-seconds left and the goaltender pulled. But all of that would fall for naught when Manderson bagged a 175 foot empty netter with two seconds left to snap the Royals three game road win streak.

Reading returns to action tomorrow (Saturday, February 15 @ 7:05 pm) against the Evansville Icemen, who make their first appearance at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania. The Royals will celebrate Pink in the Rink that night by wearing special pink jerseys that will be auctioned after the game with the net proceeds benefitting Breast Cancer Support Services of Berks County. The first 1500 women on Saturday will receive a pink baseball hat courtesy of Sweet Street Desserts. The Royals will also host the Saturday Night Shoot for Cash presented by Diamond Credit Union. 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..

End 14 02-14