Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (win, 44-21-2-1=91) 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, 40-21-2-5= 87), 5-4, at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania.
For the second consecutive game, the Royals fell behind by two goals only to muster the team’s eighteenth come-from-behind win of the year. In this one, Reading got five goals from five different players, including a third period power play game winner from defenseman Marvin Degon, and held off a late game charge from the K-Wings. With the win, the Royals stretched the team’s unbeaten streak at Santander Arena to a season high eleven games (10-0-1-0) and held onto sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference.
Kalamazoo struck 3:04 into the game when Tyler Hinds took a shot from the left point that Justin Taylor, who was floating through the mid-slot, deflected just enough to cause it to slide between the legs of Brandon Anderson (win, 23-9-1-0, 33/37) for his twentieth of the year.
The K-Wings took a two-goal advantage 9:41 into the first, when Sam Ftorek carried down the right wing side slipped by a Reading defender, cut behind the Royals net and fed the puck back out to the low slot, where Ryan Del Monte stepped in and snapped one through for his seventh of the year.
Fifty-three seconds later, Reading broke through when Yannick Tifu fired a wide angle shot from the left half-wall that somehow slipped through on the short-side on Kalamazoo goaltender Joel Martin (loss, 19-9-1-4, 11/16, 27:59 TOI).
Twenty-three seconds after that, Reading tied the game at two. Domenic Monardo carried into the offensive zone down the left wing side, made a sharp cut to the slot, eluded a couple of Kalamazoo defenders and ripped a bullet back against the grain stick side on Martin for his team-leading twenty-seventh of the season.
17:31 into the first the Royals took their first lead at 3-2 when Greg Wolfe dug a puck out of a pile in front of the Kalamazoo net and fired from a tight, sharp angle up and over Martin for his third goal in two games.
The K-Wings re-tied the game at three 2:20 into the second period, when it was Chris Lawrence’s turn to carry deep into the left circle and fire a hard, perfectly-placed snap shot over the Anderson’s left shoulder for his fourteenth of the year.
Reading re-took the lead 2:43 later when Sean Wiles fired a hard snap shot out of the right circle. Martin got a chunk of the puck, but it trickled through his left arm and body, and fell behind him, landing just above the goal line where Ryan Cruthers crashed in and punched it home for his sixteenth of the year. For Cruthers, that was his seventy-first career goal as a Royal, tying him with Olivier Labelle as the team’s all-time leading goal scorer.
Reading got what proved to be the game winner on the team’s second power play chance of the night 7:59 into the second period. Cruthers set defenseman Marvin Degon for a clean look from the high slot. Degon didn’t waste the chance, ripping a hot bullet over the right arm of Martin for Degon’s seventh of the year—six of which have come on the power play. That chased Martin, as Jordan Binnington (no decision, 14/14, 30:53 TOI) came on in substitution at that point and was perfect from through the remainder of regulation time.
The Wings made a game of it with a power play goal 9:12 into the third on the team’s second power play chance of the game. Chris Lawrence dangled down and through the right circle, skated around a Reading defender who went to the ice, and slipped a cross-slot pass to a waiting Ludwig Blomstrand, who had an easy slam dunk for his thirteenth of the year.
Kalamazoo pushed hard down the stretch, but the Royals kept them at bay thanks to several big stops—including one right on the closing buzzer—by Anderson, who beat Kalamazoo for the first time in three tries, while winning for the nineteenth time in his last twenty-two decisions.
The Royals and K-Wings go at again tomorrow (Saturday, April 5 @ 7:05 pm) in the final regular season game of the year at Santander Arena. The Royals will celebrate Fan Appreciation Night by giving away a number of fun and valuable gifts at every stoppage of play. We’ll also give away a vacation trip to the Caribbean courtesy of Boscov’s Travel and Apple Vacations (twenty-one and older, only). Tomorrow night is also the season finale for the Diamond Credit Union ‘Saturday Night Shoot for Cash’ when twelve lucky fans will take a shot at winning $10,000. The game night broadcast tomorrow night will kick off at 6:35 pm on CBS Sports Radio 1240 am and 98.5 fm with the Pre-Game Warm-Up Show presented by Highmark Blue Shield.
End 14 04-04