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Royals Clinch Eastern Conference Title with Win Over Kalamazoo, 2-1

Saturday, April 5th
Royals Clinch Eastern Conference Title with Win Over Kalamazoo, 2-1

Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (win, 45-21-2-1=93) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League and the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, defeated the Kalamazoo Wings (loss, 40-22-2-5= 87), ­­­­­­­­­­­­2-1, at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania.

In a game that had the feeling of a classic playoff showdown, the Royals scored first and built a 2-0 lead before Kalamazoo broke through for a second period short-handed goal to make it a nail biter. The third period featured very little open ice—and even less oxygen—as the Royals were able to grind out the team’s fifth straight win. The Royals’ win over Kalamazoo, which stretched Reading’s home unbeaten streak to twelve (11-0-1-0), combined with a loss by the South Carolina Stingrays (to Florida) served to clinch the Eastern Conference regular season title for the second consecutive season for Reading.

Royals’ goaltender Riley Gill (no decision, 6/6 in 20:00) started the game and was involved in a collision with Kalamazoo forward, Justin Taylor, 11:03 into the first period. There was a minor penalty for goaltender interference assessed against Taylor, and on the ensuing power play Royals’ defenseman Marvin Degon got loose at the top of the right circle for a hot bullet that blew by goaltender Jordan Binnington (loss, 21-13-1-1, 18/20 in 58:41) high to the stick side for Degon’s eighth of the season—seven of which have come on the power play—11:49 into the first.

Gill finished the remainder of the first period; but Brandon Anderson (win, 24-9-1-0, 15/16, in 40:00) substituted in at the start of the second.

4:38 into the second frame Reading got what proved to be the game winner from defenseman Mike Banwell, who fired a hard snap shot from the right point that clanked off the left pipe, but ricocheted off the back of Binnington and in for Banwell’s third of the year—and his first GWG of the season.

Kalamazoo broke through on the Royals’ third power play chance of the night, when an aggressive attack by the K-Wings’ penalty killers resulted in a mad scramble around the Royals’ net. Although Reading thwarted the original scoring bid, the clearing attempt up the middle was picked off by Brandon Martel who intercepted the puck, walked down the slot, and ripped one over the catching glove of Anderson for his third of the year.

From that point forward, it was a preview of playoff games to come for both teams—a tightly contested battle down the stretch, during which Reading held on for the team’s twenty-fourth win of the year (24-10-1-1).

The Royals finish the regular season with three games in Florida, the first of which will be played at Germain Arena in Estero, Florida, against the Florida Everblades on Wednesday (April 9 @ 7:30 pm). The game night broadcast on Wednesday will kick off with the Pre-Game Warm-Up Show presented by Highmark Blue Shield at 7:00 pm on CBS Sports Radio 1240 am and 98.5 fm in Reading. As with all Royals’ road games, Wednesday’s game will also be televised locally in Berks County, Pennsylvania, on BCTV courtesy of Boscov’s Travel and Apple Vacations.

End 14 04-05