Teams Per: 1 2 3 OT
REA: 0 0 2 0=2
FLA: 2 0 0 1=3
REA: 10-10-1-2 = 23 (4th East Division)
FLA: 18-8-0-0 = 36 (1st South Division)
REA: Morrison (OTL) 3-5-1-1 (27/30) (60:31)
FLA: Peters (win) 8-6-0-0 (21/23) (60:31)
Estero, FL – The Reading Royals (OTL, 10-10-1-2=23) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League, were defeated in overtime by the Florida Everblades (win, 18-8-0-0=36), affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes of the NHL, 3-2, at Germain Arena in Estero, Florida.
In the mirror image of Wednesday’s 3-2 SOL to the Everblades (when Florida mounted a two-goal third period comeback), the Royals came up with a pair of third period goals to tie the game and send it beyond regulation, where the end result was basically the same—the Everblades snatching the two points, albeit in OT tonight. Florida struck early and kept the Royals on their heels for long stretches, but Reading used the energy of a Sam Windle fight and several great stops by goaltender Adam Morrison in the second period to fuel the third period comeback effort and earn a point against the top team in the East.
Florida struck on their first power play chance 2:44 into the game, when Ryan Martindale threaded a wrist shot from just inside the offensive blue line that appeared to buzz over the catching hand of Morrison for his first of the year.
The Everblades stretched their lead to two 12:17 into the first—six seconds after the conclusion of their second power play chance. Shortly after Todd Perry exited the penalty box, defenseman Marc Nemec, who would factor in all three Florida goals—which included scoring the OT GWG—took a shot out of the left circle that ricocheted off a Reading defender and slid directly to Matt Marquardt, who was planted in the right circle. Marquardt ripped the puck into the upper reaches of the net for his third goal in two games against Reading and his eighth of the year.
Early in what would prove to be a scoreless second period, the Everblades had the Royals’ ears pinned back; but Reading used a mid-period tilt between rookie defender Sam Windle and veteran enforcer Corey Cowick—along with at least three brilliant saves by Morrison—to fuel the comeback effort in the third.
It started on an early power play chance when Jordan Heywood, returning to the lineup after a three game absence, fired a one-time slap-shot from the left point that Florida goaltender Anthony Peters rejected; but the rebound fell to the low slot where Robbie Czarnik quickly snapped the puck behind Peters for his tenth of the year—and team leading sixth power play goal—forty-four seconds into the third.
Reading tied the game at two 10:21 into the third when a fortuitous bounce out of the defensive end gave Cam Reid a clean and clear two-on-one break with line-mate Justin Crandall, who took a feed from Reid and charged down the right wing side. After fumbling the puck just a bit, Crandall regained possession at the last possible moment and slipped a cross crease pass to Reid, who buried it for his second goal in two games—and fifth of the season.
The Royals got an early holiday gift 11:50 into the third in the form of a short-handed penalty shot awarded to Matt Hatch who was tugged from behind after slipping behind the Florida defense while Reading was killing the Everblades’ fourth power play chance of the game. However, Peters rejected Hatch’s penalty shot bid to keep it a 2-2 tie.
That’s the way it would stay until 31 seconds into overtime, when a mishandled puck in the offensive zone by Crandall provided an opportunity for Matt Willows—the leading scoring rookie in the league—to charge end-to-end and feed the puck from deep on the left (as he was being harassed from behind by the hard back-checking Crandall) to the top of the crease, where Nemec came crashing in for the re-direct up and over the left arm of Morrison.
The Royals and Everblades complete their three-game set—and season series—tomorrow (Saturday, December 12 @ 7:00 pm) at Germain Arena in Estero, Florida. Saturday’s game night broadcast 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. As with all Royals’ road games, Friday’s game will be televised live in Berks County, Pennsylvania on BCTV courtesy of Boscov’s Travel and Apple Vacations. 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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