Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (win, 38-20-1-1=78) 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, 22-30-3-5= 52), 4-0, at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania.
Reading broke a scoreless tie early in the second period with a goal by Sean Wiles directly at the conclusion of the team’s first chance with the power play, and that proved to be the game winner as goaltender Brandon Anderson (win, 20-8-1-0, 22/22) recorded his fourth shutout of the season. The Royals added three in the third, but the four goals came off the sticks of four different players—which was fine except that no one scored the requisite three goals needed to win a $10,000 prize for a Royals’ fan in the team’s seventh annual St. Hat Trick’s Day game. This win—the team’s thirty-eighth of the season—marked the first time in the thirteen year history of the team that the Royals have won thirty-eight times in the first sixty games of the season.
After a scoreless first, the Royals came out storming in the second and struck 2:45 into the period, just as the team’s first power play chance came to an end. After a long sequence of offensive zone puck possession, Aaron Gens slid a diagonal down feed to the low left circle where a waiting Wiles ripped a one-timer with one knee on the ice for his eighteenth of the year—and what would prove to be his fifth game winner of the season.
Reading added a bit of insurance thirty-nine seconds into the third period, when Kevin Walrod battled to gain possession of a loose puck in the neutral zone, carried into the offensive zone, and snapped a bullet that hit Elmira goaltender Neil Conway (loss, 8-5-1-2, 28/32) in the forehead. The rebound fell to the low right slot where a charging Ethan Cox stepped in and ripped a hard one-time snapper across the body of Conway for his eleventh of the year.
1:14 after that, Reading stretched the lead to 3-0 after another flurry of offensive chances. Marvin Degon fired a hard shot from the right point that Conway kicked out. The rebound fell to the top of the crease, where Ryan Cruthers controlled and quickly slid a pass to Yannick Tifu, who was planted below the left circle. Despite being at an extremely sharp angle, Tifu was able to thread a shot behind the back of Conway to the far side of the net for his sixteenth of the year.
The Royals added a power play goal 16:21 into the final frame. Josh Brittain carried down the right wing side to a spot below the goal line. Brittain dished across the top of the crease to a waiting Domenic Monardo, who drilled a one-time snapper from the weak side for his twenty-second of the season—which leads all first year pros in the league.
From that point forward, the effort concentrated on preserving the shutout—which required a couple of athletic and acrobatic stops down the stretch by Anderson, who has won six in a row, nine of his last ten, and sixteen of his last eighteen decisions.
The Royals return to action tomorrow (Sunday, March 16 @ 4:05 pm) when the team will face the Wheeling Naielrs at Santander Arena. On Sunday, the Royals will host the ninth annual Battle of the Badges presented by FirstStates Financial Services which pits the hockey teams for the Reading Police and Fire Departments starting at 12:30 pm. One ticket gets you into that game, as well as the Royals’ game to follow, where the first 1000 kids 15 years of age and younger will receive a drawstring bag courtesy of V&M Towing. Sunday is also a Berks Packing Dollar Day in which hot dogs, popcorn, nachos and soda are just $1.00. You can also bring your own skates if you would like to skate with the players after Sunday’s game. Sunday’s game night broadcast will kick off at 3:35 pm on CBS Sports Radio 1240 am and 98.5 with the Highmark Blue Shield Warm-Up Show.
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