Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (win, 39-20-2-1=81) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League and the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, defeated the Gwinnett Gladiators (loss, 25-33-3-2= 55), 4-2, at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania.
Reading came back from two separate deficits—the second time with a pair of goals late in the third to push the team’s home unbeaten streak to eight (7-0-1-0). Gwinnett struck late in the first period, but the Royals pushed hard in the second, firing a team season-high twenty-three shots and finally beating Gwinnett goaltender Mark Gugenberger (loss, 11-4-0-0, 33/36, 1eng) on a power play goal with just 1:15 left in the second. The Gladiators retook the lead at 2-1 with 6:47 left in regulation, but the Royals got a pair of late goals and an empty netter to pull out the team’s Eastern Conference leading 39th win of the year—and to regain a tie for first (with the Kalamazoo Wings) in the East.
Although Reading had several golden chances to score early, Gwinnett got on the board first when Brendan Walker charged down the left wing side, cut to the top of the crease and stuffed one in on goaltender Brandon Anderson (win, 21-8-1-0, 22/24) for his sixteenth of the year.
Reading tied the game at one on the back-end of a five on three power play with just 1:45 left in the second period—during which Gugenberger was absolutely spectacular. Matt Campanale slid a pass from the high slot to a waiting Domenic Monardo, who was planted low on the left side for a sharp angled bar-and-in bullet over Gugenberger for Monardo’s team-leading twenty-fourth of the year, which also leads also rookies in the ECHL.
Gwinnett retook the lead with just 6:47 left in regulation when Casey Pierro-Zabotel took off on a two-on-one rush with Joey Haddad. Pierro-Zabotel drew the attention of the Reading defender and slid a cross-slot pass to the charging Haddad, who ripped it over the right shoulder of Anderson short-side-and-in for his eighteenth of the year.
51 seconds later the Royals re-tied the game at two, when Jesse Todd fired one from the wide left wing wall—directly at the far-left hash-mark—that deflected off a Gwinnett defender’s stick and bulleted into the upper right corner of the net for his first of the year.
1:24 after that, Reading got the game winner off the stick of Michal Cajkovsky on another deflection off a Gladiator. Cajkovsky fired from the left point, and the puck deflected off the shin pad of a Gwinnett defender and ended up in the net low glove side for Cajkovsky’s thirteenth of the year—which leads all rookie defenders in the league—and his fourth game winner.
The Royals held off a late push from the Gladiators and added an empty netter from Ethan Cox, as Brandon Anderson stretched his personal win streak to seven. He has now won seventeen of his last nineteen decisions with the Royals.
The Royals return to action on Friday (March 21 @ 7:30 pm) when the team travels to Wings Stadium in Kalamazoo, Michigan to take on the Kalamazoo Wings. Friday’s game night broadcast will kick off at 7:00 pm on CBS Sports Radio 1240 am and 98.5 with the Highmark Blue Shield Warm-Up Show. As with all Royals’ road games, Friday’s game will be televised live in Berks County, Pennsylvania, on BCTV courtesy of Boscov’s Travel and Apple Vacations.
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