The Reading Royals, proud affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers, won their 2021-22 home opener, 6-4, over the Norfolk Admirals Saturday, Oct. 23rd at Santander Arena. Royals goaltender Pat Nagle saved 19 of 20 shots after coming into the game in relief of Kirill Ustimenko, while Admirals goalie Dylan Wells saved 37 of 43.
Chase Lang got the Admirals on the board early with a wrist shot ripped top-shelf past Ustimenko 6:25 into the first period. The Royals bounced back shortly after with a goal of their own when Josh Winquist clapped a one-timer past Wells. Patrick Bajkov followed it up with his first of three goals on the night. Bajkov’s wrist shot beat Wells glove side and put the Royals ahead, 2-1.
Before the conclusion of the period, Norfolk captured back the lead with a pair of goals off the sticks of Daniel Brickley and Alex Tonge to make it 3-2. Nagle took over the duty of defending the Royals’ cage for Ustimenko after allowing 3 goals on 7 shots faced in the opening period.
Three minutes into the second period, Bajkov tallied his second goal on a shot that skimmed off Wells’ left shoulder, dropping into the crease, and crossing the goal-line. At the eight-minute mark in the second period, Bajkov completed a highlight night with a hat trick. Positioned in front of Well’s crease, the 6’0” forward deflected in a shot from the blue line to give Reading a 4-3 lead.
The one-goal difference didn’t last long for Reading in the second period. Karl El-Mir, just 45 seconds after the Bajkov hat trick goal, scored top-shelf over a sprawling glove from Nagle, tying the game, 4-4.
In the final period, Reading took the lead and didn’t look back. Matthew Strome carried the puck into the offensive zone on a two-on-one break. He took the shot and cashed in on a wrister put right between Wells’ glove and left pad to give the Royals a one-goal lead.
Nagle saved the next seven shots he faced in the third period, and Patrick McNally delivered the 10th and final goal of the game on a saucering puck from one end of the ice to the other into the Admirals’ empty net. McNally’s empty goal with eight seconds left in the third period solidified the 6-4 win, the first of the Royals’ season.
The Royals play their third game on the road against the Adirondack Thunder Saturday, Oct. 30 at 7:00 p.m. at Cool Insuring Arena.
Reading Royals season, flex memberships and group tickets are available for the 2021-22 season by visiting the Royals’ box office at Santander Arena or by calling 610-898-7825.
About the RoyalsThe Reading Royals, proud affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers and Lehigh Valley Phantoms, are entering their 20th season in the ECHL. They won their first Kelly Cup championship in 2013 and have clinched playoff berths in 10 of the previous 11 seasons. They are four-time division champions. The Berks County Convention Center Authority (BCCCA), founded in 1996, owns the Royals and oversees operations at Santander Arena.