Teams Per: 1 2 3
GRN: 3 0 2=5
REA: 0 2 1=3
GRN: 29-19-4-1=63 (T-2, South Division)
REA: 31-18-1-2=65 (2, North Division)
GRN: Skapski (win, 14-10-0-0) (36/39)
REA: Dekanich (ND) (14/17) (20:00)
Ouellette (Loss) (12-8-0-1) (14/15) (38:10) (1 eng)
Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (loss, 31-18-1-2=65) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League, were defeated by the Greenville Swamp Rabbits (win, 29-19-4-1=63), 5-3, at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania.
In the first game of the year between the Royals and Swamp Rabbits in Reading, Greenville scored twice in the first three minutes, built a three-goal first period lead, and never let the Royals get back to even despite a couple of stabs to get within one of the front-running Swamp Rabbits. Former Royal Brandon Alderson, who returned at Santander Arena for the first time since leading the Royals in playoff goals last Spring, bagged his first two shots—the first coming just 15 seconds into the game—to stick a dagger in his former team’s collective heart.
The loss served to snap a three game winning streak for the Royals, pushed the Royals’ record to 4-8-0-0 against teams from the South, and dropped the team’s overall record back to thirteen games over .500.
Greenville stunned the Santander Arena crowd fifteen seconds into the game when Alderson found himself cutting through a seam on the left side of the slot. Despite having a Royal draped all over him, Alderson was able to turn and get himself into a position to softly and deftly chip the puck from in tight at the left side of the crease up and over goaltender Mark Dekanich. The soft flop shot arced over Dekanitch’s left shoulder and landed in the net for Alderson’s fourteenth of the year.
Alderson made it 2-0 on his next shot 2:50 into the first. On this one, he was decidedly more open as Allan MacPherson slid a cross-slot pass to Alderson in the right circle, where he had a clean and wide open look. He didn’t waste the blown defensive zone coverage, ripping the puck between the legs of Dekanitch for number fifteen.
The Swamp Rabbits stretched the lead to three with just 1:09 left in the first after an extended—and perfectly executed—series of passes to maintain puck possession in the offensive zone. It ended when defenseman Patrick Prapavessis carried down the right wing wall and threaded one more pass to defenseman Spiro Goulakas who was cutting diagonally left to right through the slot. Goulakas took the feed, protected the puck and then slipped a short-side back-hand that eluded Dekanich for his thirteenth of the year.
In the second, Reading made a goaltender change with Martin Ouellette coming on in substitution for Dekanich. That seemed to spark the team, as the team Royals the first of what would be two comeback surges on the strength of back-to-back goals by Ian Watters.
The first came on a crazy play where it appeared that Greenville was going to get a point blank look from between the hash-marks, but a pass from below the goal line hopped over the stick of the waiting target—Michael Joly—and into the high slot in Reading’s defensive end, where Tyrell Goulbourne picked the puck off and fired a blueline-to-blueline pass that freed Nathan Moon and Watters on a two-on-none. Moon fed Watters, who charged down the slot and drilled a bullet behind goaltender Mackenzie Skapski for his fifth of the year 14:09 into the second period.
The second came on a perfectly executed high deflection of a shot from the left point from defenseman Florian Iberer. Watters, who was floating through the low left slot, got just enough of the puck with the tip of the blade of his stick to send it across the body of Skapski and into the far side of the net for his sixth of the year with just 1:06 left in the second frame.
The Swamp Rabbits dampened the Royals’ comeback hopes 35 seconds into the third, when a failed clear from the defensive zone right after the faceoff to start play in the third, resulted in a steal by Trevor Gerling and a wide open chance for Tyler Brown in the low slot. Brown slid the puck between the legs of Ouelllette from in tight and then was able to reach over and around the goaltender to stuff it across the goal line with a Reading defender—who was all the way inside the cage—seeking to keep the puck out. That was Brown’s fourth of the year and would prove to be the game winner.
Reading clawed back within one a second time relative early in the third when Jesper Pettersson danced around in the high slot to create a shooting lane. He slap shot was partially deflected, creating a change-of-pace shot that trickled by a Greenville player, who was in a position to block it, and then across the goal line, before Skapski could get his bearings 6:23 into the period.
For Pettersson that would be his fourth of the year, but for the Royals that would it; as the team could not convert again down the stretch, despite generating a number of quality chances—as the team did throughout the game. On a number of the best looks throughout the contest, the Royals simply did not hit the net; and on the scrambles down the stretch, Reading simply could not force the puck over the goal line.
Greenville added a somewhat disputed empty net goal when Bretton Cameron was foiled by a stick-check in his attempt to take a bid at the open cage from about twenty-five feet away. The shot went wide, but the referee awarded the goal nonetheless. The Royals argued against the call; but that like many of the team’s scoring chances in this game, that argument was left wanting.
NEXT UP FOR THE ROYALS
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2017
@ Adirondack Thunder
Glens Falls Civic Center – Glens Falls, NY (7:00 pm)
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2017
v Greenville Swamp Rabbits
Santander Arena – Reading, PA (6:00 pm)*
*Special Start Time to Accommodate Albert Boscov Memorial at 1:00 pm Inside Santander Arena*
Faith and Family Night
Jonathan Quick “Mini-Locker Room” First 1000 Kids 14& Younger
AUDIO: iHeartRadio – Rumba 1340 in Reading
Deibler Dental In Arena Broadcast: 99.3 fm Inside Santander Arena
TELEVISION: Royals’ Road Games are televised locally in Berks County, Pennsylvania
on BCTV, which Can Found at Comcast Reading Cable Channel 15,
Service Electric Cable Channel 19, Comcast Southern Berks Channel 965
Courtesy of Boscov’s Travel and Apple Vacations
STREAMING VIDEO: ECHL.TV powered by NeuLion (Pay-Per-View)
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