Evansville, IN – The Reading Royals (loss, 40-21-2-1=83) 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 Evansville Icemen (win, 29-25-3-7= 68), 5-3, at Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana.
Reading scored early and built two separate two-goal leads, but a desperate Evansville team rang off four straight, as the Royals bus-legs caught up with the team the longer the game went. The loss snapped Reading’s four game unbeaten streak, as well as the seven game win streak for goaltender Brandon Anderson (loss, 21-9-1-0, 17/22 in 40:00). This marked the first loss ever for Reading in the State of Indiana, where the Royals had compiled an all-time historical record of 8-0-0-0 within the State coming into tonight’s game.
T.J. Syner kicked off a wild first period when he turned and wheeled one high glove on goaltender Mike Clemente (win, 18-15-0-4, 28/31) 1:46 into the first for his seventeenth of the year. Reading took the team’s first two goal lead of the game 1:08 after that when Ethan Cox slipped one from low on the left side of the Evansville cage to the top of the crease where Jesse Todd slipped it under Clemente for his fourth goal in the last three games.
Evansville got on the board 12:57 into the first when Matt Lowry punched one through Anderson after had made a big save off the rush, which kicked off a wild scramble around the Royals’ net.
Reading regained the two goal advantage 17:15 into the first on the team’s second power play chance of the night when Brett Flemming fired from the high slot. That shot was deftly deflected by Josh Brittain behind Clemente for Brittain’s twelfth of the year.
But 1:03 after that, during a delayed penalty against the Royals and the sixth attacker on the ice, defenseman Thomas Larkin hit pay-dirt for his first of the year on a long shot from the right point that appeared to be deflected off a Reading defender on the way in.
Early in the second, Evansville tied the game at three off the rush. Alex Aleardi blew into the offensive zone and as he was going by the Royals’ net on the right side, slipped the puck back to the trailing Dylan Clark, who tapped it under Anderson for his fifth of the year.
Evansville took the lead for good at 4-3 when Tristan King found himself wide open and all alone at the top of the crease, after a shot by Aleardi from the left circle was blocked by Reading defender Marvin Degon. Before Degon could shake off the effects of the block, Aleardi got the puck to the Clark for the easy backhand-forehand stuff 7:36 into the period.
The Icemen built a two goal lead 1:11 after that when Larkin fired another shot from the point that hit the body of Aleardi and fluttered up and over Anderson for his seventh of the year.
Goaltender Riley Gill came on in the third period and made all six saves he was called upon to make; but the Royals were unable to come up with any offensive answers to claw their way back into this one.
The Royals return to action next Friday (March 28 @ 7:05 pm) when the team returns to Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania, to face the Elmira Jackals. Next Friday the Royals will host another Mama Lucia Royal Feast Friday, when fans can get an All-U-Can-Eat Buffet and a ticket to the game for just $25.00. Next Friday’s game night broadcast will kick off at 6:35 pm et on CBS Sports Radio 1240 am and 98.5 with the Highmark Blue Shield Warm-Up Show.
End 14 03-22