Teams Per: 1 2 3
REA: 1 0 0 =1
WHL: 3 2 1 =6
REA: 6-4-0-0 = 12 (2nd East Division)
WHL: 6-5-0-0 = 12 (1st North Division)
REA: Ouellette (loss) 3-2-0-0 (8/11) (15:05)
Knapp (ND) (24/27) (44:55)
WHL: Palazzese (win) 4-2-0-0 (27/28)
Wheeling, WV – The Reading Royals (loss, 6-4-0-0=12) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League, were defeated by the Wheeling Nailers (win, 6-5-0-0=12), affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL, 6-1, at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling, West Virgina..
The Royals winless streak at WesBanco Arena was stretched to eight (0-7-1-0) dating back to March 1, 2014 with a lopsided loss to the Nailers, who struck early—on their second shot of the night—and (except for a short span in the first when Reading exploded with a relentless counter-punch and tied the game) dominated the Royals for large stretches. For the Royals, this one was a story of turnovers and rebounds neither of which fell to Reading’s favor, as the team’s season-long three game win streak fell victim to some loose and careless play.
The Nailers struck on their second shot of the night when defenseman Mike Gunn threw a seemingly harmless wrister from deep and wide on the left wing point that floated through everyone including goaltender Martin Ouellette for Gunn’s first goal as a pro 1:50 into the game.
Reading used the energy of a tilt between Derek Mathes and Patrick McGrath one second after Wheeling’s goal to spark an aggressive offensive attack. That attack paid off four seconds after the conclusion of the Royals’ first power play opportunity of the night 6:27 into the opening frame. Robbie Czarnik, who had just been robbed on a slam dunk chance in at the left side of the crease, gained possession in the right circle and threaded one through the legs of goaltender Franky Palazzese for his fifth of the year.
But from that point forward, the scoresheet belonged to Wheeling who bagged back-to-back goals separated by only fourteen seconds late in the first. A failed cleared 14:51 into the opening frame devolved into a mad-scramble around the Royals net, which ended when Jarrett Burton batted a back-hand behind Ouellette for his first of the night and seventh of the year.
Fourteen seconds after that, the puck popped out of the Royals’ defensive zone corner on an apparent bad turnover. The puck slid to a wide-open and all-alone Patrick McGrath, who didn’t waste the chance from fourteen feet away in the low slot, drilling a snap shot over Ouellette’s extended glove hand for his first of the night and second of the year. That would do it for Ouellette, as goaltender Connor Knapp came on in substitution 15:05 into the game.
Wheeling piled on a couple of rebound goals in the second. The first came 2:27 into the period when Knapp knocked down a shot from just inside the blue line by Riley Brace with his blocker. The puck fell out in front of Knapp, and Jarrett Burton beat everyone to the loose puck and chipped a fluttering back-hand by Knapp for his second of the game.
Later in the second, McGrath bagged his second on another rebound. This one came off a perimeter shot by Brett Stern that fell to Knapp’s left, where McGrath had the inside track to punch it back home for his third of the year at the dead-on 10-minute mark of the second.
Wheeling added one more for good measure 13:36 into the final frame, when Cam Reid mishandled a puck in the defensive zone directly to Brace, who was wide open in the slot. Brace gladly took that one and buried it for his third of the year. As time ticked down, the Royals’ energy devolved into frustration resulting in a bit of a messy finish—but the damage had already been done by that point.
The Royals get right back on the horse tomorrow (Saturday, November 14 @ 7:00 pm) at Santander Arena in Reading, PA, when the team will face the Norfolk Admirals for the first time in team history. That night, the Royals will celebrate Jack Gulati ‘Are You Happy?’ Night with the first 2500 fans receiving an ‘RU Happy?’ t-shirt. The Royals will also host the Diamond Credit Union Saturday 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.
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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