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Royals Stumble Down the Stretch in Wheeling, 3-2

Friday, February 5th
Royals Stumble Down the Stretch in Wheeling, 3-2

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Teams     Per: 1          2          3

REA:              1          1          0 =2

WHL:             0          0          3 =3


REA: 21-18-4-3 = 49 (3rd East Division)

WHL: 20-19-2-3 = 45 (2nd North Division)


REA: Knapp (loss) 7-7-0-1 (25/28) (57:32)

WHL: DeSmith (win) 2-2-0-2 (24/26)

Power Play:

REA: 0-3

WHL: 1-6

Wheeling, WV – The Reading Royals (­­­­­­­­­loss, 21-18-4-3=49) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League, were defeated by the Wheeling Nailers (win, 20-19-2-3=45), affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL, 3-2, at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling, West Virginia.

The Royals struck first and held a 2-0 lead entering the third period, but suffered the team’s tenth blown-lead loss of the year, giving up a power play goal, a short-handed goal and an even strength goal—the last one with just 4:13 remaining to fall in Wheeling for the tenth straight time (0-9-1-0), dating to March 1, 2014..

Reading struck first 11:06 into the opening frame when Derek Mathers won a puck battle on the left wing wall and freed the puck towards the right circle, where Mike Pereira set one on a tee for Robbie Czarnik, who drilled a hot, bar-down bullet over the left shoulder of goaltender Casey DeSmith for his team-leading nineteenth of the year.

The Royals stretched the lead to two 5:38 into the second period after a strong forecheck—again led by Mathers and linemate Ian Watters, freed the puck to Scott Tanski, who was able to find a wide, soft seam in the mid-slot for a quick snapper that blew by DeSmith for his eighth of the year.

Wheeling started the come-back effort on their sixth power play chance of the night 3:46 into the final frame. It appeared that Reading’s penalty killers had at least one chance to get the puck out of the zone; but the Nailers were able to keep the play in the offensive end alive. Matthew Maione ended up with the puck at the right point and threw a seemingly harmless shot about the two-feet off the ice that appeared to be headed wide of the net until Chris Wydo re-directed it out of mid-air behind goaltender Connor Knapp.

Wheeling tied the game at two on Reading’s final power play chance of the game with a short-handed goal 12:25 into the third period. The Royals’ power play unit got caught up ice and Chris Ciotti and Matt Tabrum took off on a two-on-one. Ciotti slipped a cross-ice pass to Tabrum who crashed the right side of the net beating the puck behind Knapp for his fourth of the year.

The Nailers bagged what proved to be the tie-breaking game winner with just 4:13 left in regulation after an icing infraction against Reading brought the face-off back into the Royals’ defensive end. Reading called the team’s time-out; but it proved futile, when the Nailers won the face-off to the high slot where Danny Fick forced the puck towards the Reading cage. Ciotti got just enough of the sliding puck to change its direction and angle it through Knapp for his fifth of the year.

The Royals and Nailers go at it again tomorrow (Saturday, February 6 @ 8:05 pm) at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling, West Virginia. 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 7:35 pm Eastern Time. As with all road games for the Royals, Saturday’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 (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.

End 16 02-05