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Royals Fall in Overtime to Wheeling, 3-2

Sunday, March 16th
Royals Fall in Overtime to Wheeling, 3-2

Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (otl, 38-20-2-1=79) 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 overtime by the Wheeling Nailers (win, 32-20-1-5= 70), 3-2, at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Reading held two separate leads at 1-0 and 2-1, but a crazy hop off a steel support for the glass in Reading’s defensive zone resulted in a game-tying goal for the Nailers’ Cody Sylvester with just 6:49 remaining in regulation to send the two teams to overtime, where the Nailers scored on their first shot 27 seconds into the extra frame. The loss snapped a six game home winning streak for the Royals and dropped Reading’s record to 9-4-2-0 against the Nailers after the fifteenth and final match-up of the regular season between the two teams.

The Royals scored first for only the third time in the last eight games. Ryan Cruthers threaded a cross-ice pass from left-to-right across the top of the Nailers’ crease 11:52 into the first period where a waiting Yannick Tifu settled and fired for his seventeenth of the season.

Wheeling bounced back to tie two minutes later when Chaz Johnson carried down the left wing side and shot from a wide angle deep in the zone. The puck slipped through Riley Gill (otl, 16-12-1-1, 23/26 in 60:27) for Johnson’s tenth of the year.

Reading took a 2-1 lead on the team’s fourth power play chance of the night 2:49 into the second period. Late in the back-end of a double-minor for high sticking assessed against the Nailers, Josh Brittain sprang Domenic Monardo into the offensive zone. Monardo had a great look at the top of the right circle and didn’t waste it. He snapped a perfect bullet bar-and-in behind Eric Hartzell (loss, 5-4-0-1, 25/27) for his team leading twenty-third of the year, which also leads all rookies in the ECHL.

As time ticked down in the third, Wheeling’s Carter Rowney rimmed a high dump into the offensive zone. As the puck wound around the glass in the right wing corner of Reading’s defensive zone, it struck a steel support and took a surprising and fortuitous (for Wheeling) bounce to the mid-slot, where Cody Sylvester quickly snapped it under Gill for his twenty-second of the year to tie the game with just 6:49 remaining.

Wheeling got the overtime game winner on their first rush up ice in OT, which proved to be an odd-man opportunity when a Reading defender got caught in the offensive zone stepping up to make a hit. Mike Ratchuk carried into the offensive zone, dropped to the trailing Dustin Stevenson, who in turn fed Rowney in the right circle. As the Royals’ back-checkers focused on Rowney, he slid the puck to the top of the crease, where a charging Stevenson stepped in for the easy slam dunk.

The Royals return to action on Wednesday (March 19 @ 7:05 pm) when the team will face the Gwinnett Gladiators at Santander Arena. On Wednesday, fans can take advantage of the Steak-umm Meal and Ticket Deal, where $20.00 will get you a purple zone ticket, a Steak-umm Burger, fries and a large soda courtesy of Quaker Maid Meats. There will also be $2.50 select draft beer. Wednesday’s game night broadcast will kick off at 6:35 pm on CBS Sports Radio 1240 am and 98.5 with the Highmark Blue Shield Warm-Up Show.

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