Teams Per: 1 2 3
REA: 1 4 2=7
ELM: 1 3 1=5
REA: 19-16-4-3 = 45 (t-3rd East Division)
ELM: 22-19-1-0 = 45 (t-3rd East Division)
REA: Niedert (win) 1-0-0-0 (34/39)
ELM: Motte (loss) 11-14-0-0 (45/51) (1 eng)
Elmira, NY – The Reading Royals (win, 19-16-4-3=45) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League, defeated the Elmira Jackals (loss, 22-19-1-0=45), affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres of the NHL, 7-5, at First Arena in Elmira, New York.
Although it certainly wasn’t a shutout, the Royals extended the team’s win streak against the Jackals to four straight. Elmira scored on their first shot of the game—and held four different leads in the game—but the Royals, who scored as many goals in the second period as they had in the team’s last four games, not only fought back from each deficit, but ended up pulling away in the third to snap a four game winless streak. Nick Niedert, who had been serving as an emergency back-up goaltender for the Royals over the last several games, was signed to a Standard Players Contract today (when Martin Ouellette was recalled to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the AHL) and made 34 saves to record the victory.
Yannick Tifu, who was playing in his 499th career ECHL game, racked up five points (2g-3a) in the seven goal explosion to push his career point total to 201 (75g-126a) to tie Olivier Labelle as the second leading scorer in Royals’ team history.
The Royals, who blanked the Jackals in the last three straight games between the two teams, entered the game riding 181:35 of consecutive shutout streak against Elmira—but that ended in relative short order…on the first shot taken by the Jackals 1:45 into the game, when Colin Jacobs threw one from deep on the right wing side that angled off the stick of Nick Niedert and into the net for his tenth of the year.
Reading tied the game 9:04 into the first when Nick Luukko got a pair of successive shots from right circle. Elmira goaltender, C.J. Motte, made both saves but on the second, the puck fell to the left side of the slot, where Scott Tanski stepped up, corralled the loose puck and back-handed the puck home for his sixth of the year.
The Jackals took their second lead twenty-three seconds into the second period when Allan MacPherson took a shot off the rush out of the left circle. Niedert made a stick save, but the rebound bounced right back to the low slot, where a crashing Cason Hohman punched it in for his fourteenth of the year.
The Royals bounced back a second time on the team’s first power play of the night, when Robbie Czarnik found Justin Crandall at the left side of the net along the goal line. Crandall held the puck until a cross-ice lane opened up for a diagonal up pass into the right circle where a waiting Yannick Tifu snapped home his ninth of the year 2:59 into the second.
Lead number three for Elmira came 1:25 later after a mad scramble around the net after Neidert made a brilliant left pad save on Elmira’s Mark Bennett. But in the ensuing scramble, the puck slid away from Niedert—who had his helmet knocked off his head in the battle—where Ian Young gained possession and slipped it through a maze of players into the net for his second of the year.
Undaunted, Reading re-tied the game at three when Nick Luukko threw a seeing-eye wrist shot from the right point that just caught the net for his second of the year 7:35 of the middle frame.
Elmira’s fourth lead (4-3) came on their first power play chance of the night, when Kyle Bushee fired a pass from the offensive blue line to Cason Hohman on the goal-line. Hohman in turn slid the puck to the mid-slot where MacPherson popped out and fired a quick snapper across the body of Niedert for his tenth of the year 13:38 into the second.
Reading re-tied the game at four forty-two seconds later on a brilliant finish off a two-on-one rush by Yannick Tifu. Justin Crandall carried into the offensive end on the right wing side and slid a cross-slot pass towards Tifu, charging down the left. The puck bounced off the shaft of the Elmira defender between the Tifu and Crandall. The puck took a couple of hops as it came towards Tifu, who swiped it out of mid-air and into the net for his second of the night.
The Royals took their first lead of the game on the first goal of the year for Jesper Pettersson. Tifu started a slick passing sequence from deep on the right side. He hit Crandall, who in turn slipped a cross-slot pass to Pettersson who was set on the weak side for a one-time slam dunk 17:16 into the second frame.
Reading stretched the lead to two at 6-4 early in the third when Tifu tracked a loose puck in the offensive zone, carried behind and around the Elmira net, came out on the right wing side and slipped the puck into the mid-slot where a well-guarded Cam Reid redirected the puck behind Motte for his eleventh of the year—and what would proved to be the game winner.
Elmira gave Reading pause to think with 5:40 left in regulation when Jacob MacDonald fired a shot off the top of the left circle which buzzed over the right shoulder of Niedert for his ninth of the year to make it 6-5.
But Reading held on and added on an empty netter by Justin Crandall 28.9 seconds left to run the team’s record to 17-2-2-1 at First Arena in Elmira since February of 2013.
Reading travels to the Glens Falls Civic Center to face the Adirondack Thunder on Friday (January 28 @ 7:00 pm). Friday’s game night broadcast on CBS Sports Radio 1240 am and 98.5 fm will kick off with the pre-game warm-up show presented by Highmark Blue Shield at 6:30 pm. As with all Royals’ road games this season, Friday’s game will be televised locally 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; 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.
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