Teams Per: 1 2 3
WHL: 1 1 0= 2
REA: 0 1 0= 1
WHL: 34-33-1-1=70 (5th North Division)
REA: 44-20-4-2=94 (3rd East Division)
WHL: Palazzese (win) 18-19-0-1 (46/47)
REA: Knapp (loss) 23-11-3-1 (28/30)
Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (loss, 44-20-4-2=94) 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, 34-33-1-1=70), 2-1, at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania.
In the final matchup of the twelve game regular season series between the Royals and Nailers, the visiting team finally won, as Wheeling—and goaltender Franky Palazzese—held off a forty-seven shot attack from the Royals to notch two critical points in the Nailers’ efforts to claim one of the two available playoff spots in the North Division. Wheeling scored first—and last. In between the Royals got the thirtieth goal of the year for Olivier Labelle, but that would prove to be it for Reading, who remained in third place in the East Division—one point behind the South Carolina Stingrays against whom the Royals will play in the upcoming best-of-seven first round East Division Semi-Finals.
Wheeling broke through 12:54 into the first period on a tic-tac-toe passing play that started below the goal line in Reading’s defensive zone when Cody Wydo gained possession and made a quick, left-to-right tape-to-tape pass behind the Royals’ net to Sahir Gill who was also below the goal. Just as quickly, Gill slipped a pass to the low slot, where Derek Army, who earlier in the day had been named to the ECHL’s All-Rookie Team, found a soft seam. Army ripped a one-time snap shot up and over goaltender Connor Knapp for his twenty-eighth of the year.
Reading tied the game at one 6:40 into the second period on the team’s third power play chance of the game. The Royals moved the puck up high and then point-to-point with defenseman Michael Caruso feeding defenseman Brett Flemming on the right side. Flemming took some available space off the point, stepping towards the top of the right circle and firing a hard snap shot through traffic. Palazzese fought off Flemming’s shot, but the rebound fell to the right side of the crease, where Olivier Labelle pounced on the puck and swiped it home to become only the fifth player in team history to score thirty (or more) goals in a single season. For Labelle, the all-time leading goal scorer for the Royals, this was his 101st goal and 200th point in his 226th game with the team.
Reading outshot the Nailers 18-4 through the largest chunk of the second period, but Wheeling held off the Royals’ attack, pushed back late in the second, and turned that effort into what proved to be the game winner with just 1:07 remaining in the period. Defenseman David Makowski fired a shot from the right point that appeared to hit a Reading defender and fall into the right circle where Josh Archibald, who had been assigned by the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins earlier in the day, took one-time hot snapper that beat Knapp on the short-side for his seventh of the year in his ninth game with the team.
The Royals kept the pressure up in the third, but Palazzese and his Nailer teammates had what it took to keep the Reading attack at bay, claim the two points, and gain ground in their effort to capture a playoff spot in the final week of the regular season.
NEXT UP FOR THE ROYALS
Reading Royals v Indy Fuel
@ Santander Arena – Reading, PA
Friday, April 10, 2015 (7:30 pm Eastern Time)
NEXT UP: The Royals kick off the final weekend of the regular season with the first of two against the Indy Fuel on Friday (April 10 @ 7:30 pm). That night the Royals will honor the efforts of the American Cancer Society. It is also the team’s sixth and final Free Shirt Friday when the first 1500 fans fifteen years of age and older will get a t-shirt honoring goaltender Jonathan Quick, who played for the Royals in the 2007-08 season and is currently a member of the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings. The game night broadcast for Friday’s matchup can be heard live on CBS SportsRadio 1240 am and 98.5 in Reading, Pennsylvania, starting with the pre-game warm-up show presented by Highmark Blue Shield at 7:00 pm Eastern Time. Streaming audio is available free of charge on the Royals’ website (follow the ‘headset’ icon); and streaming video is available on a pay-per-view basis through ECHL.TV.
For more information about the Royals, call 610-898-7825 or log onto www.royalshockey.com.
End 15 04-08