Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (SOL, 28-17-1-1=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 in a shootout by the Evansville Icemen (win, 23-16-3-5= 54), 2-1, at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania.
The two teams played two-and-a-half periods of scoreless hockey before the Icemen finally broke the ice with an unassisted goal off an untimely turnover. But the Royals stayed with it and got a late game goal to tie things up and send it to overtime. After a scoreless OT, the teams went head-to-head in the skills competition where Evansville turned up the skill and grabbed the two points.
With the vast majority of players showing the effects of a busy week of hockey and travel, the two teams concentrated on staying on the defensive side of the puck and avoiding a costly mistake. The end result was about fifty-minutes of close-to-the vest scoreless hockey with intermittent scoring flurries at both ends of the ice.
9:19 into the third, Reading misplayed a long defensive zone breakout pass into a turnover and transition rush for Evansville. As the pass slid up into the neutral zone, the puck ricocheted off a stick and went flying high into the air, landing in an open spot on the ice at the top of the right circle in the Royals’ defensive zone. Evansville’s Matt Lowry outraced everyone for the loose puck, took control, carried to the face-off dot and fired a hard shot across the body of goaltender Riley Gill (SOL, 12-10-0-1, 36/37, 2/5 in shootout) for his tenth of the year.
Reading, who was thwarted on five power play chances during the game—three of them in the third period, earned a tie with just 3:09 remaining in regulation when Mike Banwell settled at the right point and sent a seeing-eye wrister through considerable traffic that also went buzzing by goaltender Garret Bartus (win, 6-5-3-1, 30/31, 3/4 in the shootout) for Banwell’s second of the year.
The teams returned to the safe-styled close-to-the-vest approach through the remaining time in regulation and through the sudden death overtime. The Icemen, however, let their skill soar in the shootout. Shooting first, Evansville bagged three of their five shots in the skills competition (Matt Schepke, Jeremy Langlois, and Lowry), while Reading was only able to capitalize on one of their five attempts (Josh Brittain), as the Royals lost for the first time in five shootouts this season.
The Royals return to action on Wednesday (February 19 @ 7:05 pm) when the Wheeling Nailers visit Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania. As with all Wednesday home games this season, fans can get a Purple Zone ticket, a Steak-umm Burger, fries and a large soda for just $20.00 courtesy of the Steak-umm Burger Meal and Ticket Deal presented by Quaker Maid Meats. There will also be select 12 oz draft beer for just $2.50. 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.
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