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Royals Drop Season Opener in Wheeling, 6-3

Saturday, October 18th
Royals Drop Season Opener in Wheeling, 6-3

Teams     Per: 1          2          3          F

REA:              2          0          1          3

WHL:             1          3          2          6         


REA:  0-1-0-0=0 (East Division)

WHL: 1-0-0-0=2 (North Division)


REA: Knapp (Loss) (0-1-0-0) (21/26) (59:13)

WHL: Palazzese (Win) (1-0-0-0) (37/40)

Power Play:

REA: 1-3 (1 Short-Handed Goal)

WHL: 1-3 (1 Short-Handed Goal)

Wheeling, WV – The Reading Royals (­­­­­­­­­loss, 0-1-0-0=0) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the American Hockey League, were defeated by the Wheeling Nailers  (win, 1-0-0-0=2), 6-3, in the season opener for both clubs..

The Royals scored first—a short-handed goal on their first penalty kill of the season—and held a 2-1 lead after one on the strength of late period power play goal by Zach Davies. But the Nailers re-grouped and bagged three straight in the second, including a PPG and SHG of their own to take the lead for good. Despite a strong push in the third and pulling back within one late in the third (and outshooting the Nailers 40 – 27 overall), the Royals were unable to pull off the comeback and sustained the season opening loss.

First Period (2-1, Reading)

11:23 (1-0) Reading Goal (Short-Handed)

Mullane (1), Wiles (Breakaway drop pass, five-hole stuff)

Hot on the heels of a brilliant pipe-to-pipe stop by goaltender Connor Knapp, the Royals penalty killers capitalized on the first penalty kill of the season. Sean Wiles forced a turnover, carried deep into Wheeling’s end, took it to the top of the crease, and as goaltender Franky Palazzese backed down, Wiles dropped it to the top of the crease, where the trailing Patrick Mullane slid it five-hole for the first goal of the season.

13:51 (1-1) Wheeling Goal

Gilbert (1), Gill and McKay (snap shot from low slot high glove)

The Nailers tied the game after Sahir Gill won a puck battle in the left corner and sent the puck to the low slot where a wide-open and all alone David Gilbert settled and drilled high glove for his first of the year.

19:04 (2-1) Reading Goal (Power Play)

Davies (1), Labelle, Comrie (trickler across the goal line from tight inside)

Zach Davies powered his way down the right wing side, got below the goal line and then forced his way to the right side of the crease, where he jammed the puck towards the net. Davies got just enough of the puck to force it over the goal line for his first as a Royal.

Second Period (2-4, Wheeling)

4:06 (2-2, Tie) Wheeling Goal (Power Play)

Rowney (1), Yuen (snap shot from high slot)

While Wheeling was playing with the man advantage, Rowney picked up at defensive blue line carried uncontested through the neutral zone into the offensive end and ripped a high snapper blocker side on Knapp for his first of the season.

12:24 (2-3, Wheeling) Wheeling Goal

Brace (1), Rowney and Cianfrini (five-hole back-hand from the top of the crease)

Reading coughed one up at the defensive blue line, resulting in a quick counter-punch by the Nailers. Rowney fired a perfect diagonal-down pass to the low left circle, where Riley Brace took control, cut to the top of the crease and slipped the puck through the legs of Knapp to give the Nailers a lead they would never relinquish.

19:24 (2-4, Wheeling) Wheeling Goal (Short-Handed)

Brace (2), Shutron and Rowney (one time snap shot from left side of crease)

Wheeling would get the game winner while playing short-handed. Reading had offensive zone possession on a late period power play, but lost the puck when Ryan Cruthers playing the left half-wall lost an edge and fell. The Nailers stole and broke on an odd-man rush. Defenseman Ben Shutron slipped a diagonal down pass to the low left side of the crease where a charging Brace got off a quick snap shot that beat Knapp on the short side.

Third Period (3-6, Wheeling)

15:34 (3-4, Wheeling) Reading Goal

Flemming (1), Cruthers and Davies (snap shot from mid-slot)

Reading drew within one in the latter stages of the third, when defenseman Brett Flemming, who was cutting down the middle, took a pass from Ryan Cruthers, spun 360 degrees and fired a high snap shot that beat Palazzese high to the blocker sidee.


15:55 (3-5, Wheeling) Wheeling Goal

Shutron (1), Brace and Rowney (partially deflected snap shot out of the left circle)

Wheeling put a dagger in the Royals’ comeback effort twenty-one seconds later. Shutron carrying through the left circle took a snap shot that was partially deflected and dipped under the catching glove of Knapp to immediately rebuild the two-goal lead.

18:52 (3-6, Wheeling) Wheeling Goal (Empty Net)

Brace (3), Yeun (snap shot from far left side blue line)

The Nailers took the wind out of the Royals’ collective sails with an empty netter with just over a minute left. Prior to that dagger, the Royals had created several scoring chances, but were unable to solve the young goaltender, Palazzese, who held strong in the late-game pressure.


  • The Royals named the team captains prior to the start of tonight’s game. Defenseman Bryant Molle was chosen as the team captain with defenseman Brett Flemming and forward Ryan Cruthers serving as the alternates.
  • Scratches for the Royals tonight: Dan Ford (d), Jordan Heywood (d), Kevin Walrod (f) (21-Day IR), Ian Watters (f), Colby Cohen (d), and Derek Mathers (f).
  • The Royals are 6 – 7 – 1 – 0  in the team’s thirteen prior season opening games.
  • Next Up for Reading: Friday, October 24 (@7:05 pm), against the Elmira Jackals at First Arena in Elmira, New York.

NOTES ON HOME OPENER (Saturday, October 25, 2014)

The home portion of the Royals’ schedule will kick off on Saturday (October 25, 2014 @ 7:05 pm) when the Elmira Jackals travel to Santander Arena. That night, the Royals invite everyone in the Greater Reading Region and beyond to join us as we set sail on the Royals’ Fourteenth Year of Fun with the A Simply Smashing Royal Experience Block Party on Penn Street. The excitement will kick off directly in front of Santander Arena (700 Penn Street, Reading, PA) at 4:00 pm, three hours before the opening face-off for the home opener.

This year’s Simply Smashing Block Party will provide a heaping helping of a grand Royal Experience for everyone in the family, offering a number of participatory games (including a 30 foot inflatable and corn-hole competitions), a performance by a magician, and—this is where you can flex those biceps—a season-opening ‘Smash-a-Car’ courtesy of V&M Towing for your sledge-hammer swinging pleasure. Penn Street will be rocking with music courtesy of the WIOV van, and to keep your energy at maximum output for the long-haul, there will be great food available for purchase from Muddy’s Smokehouse BBQ and Chapman’s Deli Sandwiches, as well as other refreshments, including non-alcoholic beverages.

The Simply Smashing Royal Experience Block Party on Penn Street will feature appearances by all of your Royal favorites including Slapshot and Tiara. Fans will also have an opportunity to get a free smile from the brand new ice and promotional team, The Royal Ladies, who will be making their debut appearance for the 2014-15 season. The Royals also expect the renovation and expansion project of the team’s merchandise outlet, the Lion’s Den, to be completed by the home opener, so everyone can get properly geared up—and fired up—for the home opener against the Jackals.

Call 610-898-7825 for more information or log onto www.royalshockey.com.