Elmira, NY – The Reading Royals (win, 37-19-1-1=76) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League and the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, defeated the Elmira Jackals (loss, 22-28-3-5= 52), 3-1, at First Arena in Elmira, New York.
The Royals fell behind on a goal mid-way into the first, but answered with a power play goal by Sean Wiles in the second. Reading broke the 1-1 tie early in the third with Domenic Monardo’s twenty-first goal of the year, which leads all first year pros in the ECHL. Reading added some insurance on a goal by Aaron Gens, but that would be more than the team would need, as goaltender Brandon Anderson (win, 19-8-1-0, 31/32) would hold strong for his fifth straight win.
The win, which was the Royals’ seventh straight, jumped the Royals into first place in the Eastern Conference for the first time this season. The victory also pushed the Royals’ record to 6-0-0-0 at First Arena this year—and 11-2-0-0 overall against the Jackals.
Elmira took the lead 9:54 into the first when defenseman Kyle Bushee fired from the left point that pin-balled through a maze of players and fell to the right side of the crease, where Mike Vaskivou corralled and chipped it by a sprawled out Anderson for his seventeenth of the year.
Reading tied the game at one on the team’s first power play of the night, when Ryan Cruthers fired a cross-ice pass to Yannick Tifu in the right circle. Tifu protected the puck up the wall and got support from Marvin Degon before slipping a pass into the low-right slot where a waiting Wiles swiped a one-timer under and through goaltender Neil Conway (loss, 8-3-1-2, 27/30) for his seventeenth of the year.
The Royals got the third-period tie-breaking game winner from Monardo. Matt Campanale stepped in at the left point and fired a shot that Conway rejected, but the rebound fell to the top of the crease, where Mondardo out-battled a Jackal defender for the loose puck and jammed it across the goal-line 4:56 into the final frame.
Reading got some insurance 7:41 into the third when Ethan Cox fed Gens eight feet off the top of the right circle. Gens fired a high, elusive snap shot that floated across the body of Conway and over his blocker for Gens’ fifth of the year.
Elmira had their chances down the stretch including a turnover to Rob Bellamy right in front of the net and a breakaway by Daniel Koger late in the period; but Anderson had an answer for those and others, as he won for the seventh time in his last eight decision—and for the fifteenth time in his last seventeen.
The Royals return to action on Friday (March 14 @ 7:00 pm) when the team travels to WesBanco Arena in Wheeling, West Virginia, to face the Wheeling Nailers. Friday’s game night broadcast will kick off at 6:30 pm on CBS Sports Radio 1240 am and 98.5 with the Highmark Blue Shield Warm-Up Show. As with all Royals’ road games, Wednesday’s game will be televised locally in Berks County, Pennsylvania, on BCTV courtesy of Boscov’s Travel and Apple Vacations.
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