Teams Per: 1 2 3
ORL: 1 2 2 =5
REA: 0 0 2 =2
ORL: 4-1-1-0 = 9 (2nd South Division)
REA: 3-3-0-0 = 6 (t-2nd East Division)
ORL: Massa (win) 2-0-0-0 (34/36)
REA: Ouellette (loss) 2-1-0-0 (11/15) 1 eng
Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (loss, 3-3-0-0=6) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League, were defeated by the Orlando Solar Bears (win, 4-1-1-0=9), affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs of the NHL, 5-2, at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania.
In the only match-up of the regular season between the Royals and Solar Bears, Orlando struck first and then was able to pull away, hold Reading at bay, and then pull away a second time, despite generating only seven shots in the last forty minutes. For Reading, the special teams were anything but, as the team’s power play sputtered (despite scoring a third period PPG to draw within one in the third) and the Solar Bears scored two critical special teams goals—a power play goal to make it 2-0 in the second and a short-handed goal (Orlando’s fifth SHG of the year), which proved to be the game winner.
In an evenly matched first period, the Solar Bears found the only pay dirt when a shot from the left point by Patrick Watling was blocked in front of the Royals’ net. The puck fell to the low slot where Brett Findlay turned, wheeled and fired; Reading goaltender Martin Ouellette got a chunk of the puck with his right arm, but not enough to keep it above the goal line, as Findlay bagged his fifth of the season 12:30 into the game.
Orlando took a 2-0 lead 8:09 into the second period—three seconds after a hooking minor had been assessed against Royals’ forward Justin Crandall—when a botched short-handed defensive zone face-off coverage left Johnny McInnis wide open and all alone at the top of the crease. McInnis walked the puck across the blue paint and slipped a back-hand behind Ouellette for his third of the year.
The other end of the special teams went to work later in the period to bag the game winner for the Solar Bears. While Reading was working on the team’s fourth power play chance of the game, the Royals created the team’s best opportunity—a point blank look for Adam Comrie, who stepped deep into the slot and uncorked a bullet. However, Orlando’s defenders not only blocked the shot, they turned it into a coast-to-coast rush for Brady Vail, who cut to the net deep on the right wing side and slipped one across the body of Ouellette for his first of the night and fourth of the year.
Reading struck early in the third to give the home Halloween faithful a glimmer of hope. After an extended sequence of offensive zone puck possession, Kevin Sundher fired a snap shot from just inside the blue line that was flat to the ice. Ian Watters, who was camped in front of the net, deftly nicked the puck on the way in to re-direct behind rookie goaltender Ryan Massa, who had been perfect up to that point.
The Royals quickened the Solar Bear collective pulse later in the period on the team’s sixth power play chance of the night—which happened the back-end of a double minor assessed against Brett Findlay for hooking and unsportsmanlike conduct (for arguing the underlying call). Cam Reid got two bites at the apple from the mid-slot and didn’t miss on the second, threading the needle through a pile of humanity in front of the Solar Bears’ net for his third of the year.
That made it 3-2 Orlando, but that would be it the Royals, as Orlando absorbed the Reading counter-punch and then laid out the Royals by finishing on a two-on-one with 4:07 left in regulation. The Royals were forced to force the issue as time was ticking down—and the team got trapped in the offensive end, allowing Orlando’s Jack Rodewald to sprint down the right wing side as Vail was joining him down the left. Rodewald threw a perfect cross-ice saucer to Vail, who did not waste the weak-side opportunity, burying his second of the night and fifth of the season and effectively driving the stake into Reading’s comeback hopes.
The Solar Bears were awarded an empty netter when Maxim Lamarche tackled Lindsay Sparks before he could stuff one in the open cage; but by that time, the damage was more than done, as Reading fell to 1-2-0-0 on home ice so far this season.
The Royals return to action next Saturday (November 7) with our Annual Veterans Recognition Game when the Greenville Swamp Rabbits make their first of four trips to Reading this season. The day’s activities will kick off relatively early in the morning with a youth skills clinic put on by the Army and Navy hockey teams. Then, at 1:30 pm, the two college hockey teams go at each other with the annual Army-Navy Game and Skills Competition, which will be followed by the Royals’ game at 7:00 pm—one ticket gets you into both games. At the Royals game, the first 2000 fans will receive a spinning flag courtesy of UGI Utilities. The Royals will wear a special patriotic-themed jerseys presented by Classic Harley-Davidson, which will be auctioned off after the game to benefit local veterans’ support groups. As with every Saturday night, the team will also host the Diamond Credit Union shoot for community younity.
The game night broadcast for Saturday’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 6:30 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. Remember, you can always listen to the game night broadcast inside Santander Arena on the Diebler Dental In-Arena broadcast system at 99.3 fm.
Season Tickets for the 2015-16 Reading Royals ECHL season are currently available. For more information about the Royals, call 610-898-7825 or log onto www.royalshockey.com.
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