Roayls Return Home for the Holidays Spoiled by Elmira, 5-2
Reading, PA - The Reading Royals (---------loss, 12-11-1-2=27) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League, were defeated by the Elmira Jackals (win, 18-9-0-0=36), affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres of the NHL, 5-2, at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania.
Things started well for the Royals on the team's return for the first home game in December after a nineteen day (and seven game) absence, as Reading struck on the team's first power play chance of the night. But things went south from that point forward, as the Jackals, who entered the game the hottest team in the ECHL, were able to find pay-dirt on a couple of marginal plays. On the flip side, the Royals, who were playing without three of the team's top five scorers (and seven of the top ten), were unable to solve Elmira goaltender, Niklas Lundstrom, until things were pretty much out of reach late in the third period, as the Jackals stretched their current win streak to seven.
Reading capitalized on the team's first power play chance of the game when Mike Marcou, playing in his first game of the year for the Royals, fired a hard, low blast from the left point that Lundstrom kicked out with the left pad. The rebound fell to the low slot where Pavel Padakin snapped off a quick reply that flew by Lundstrom for his second goal of the year 10:15 into the first period.
Elmira tied the game at one 15:19 into the first. Moments before the game-tying goal, the Royals' starting goaltender, Martin Ouellette, had absolutely robbed the Jackals' Spiro Goulakos on a point blank wide open chance coming directly down the slot. But on the Jackals' first goal, Oullette mishandled a soft back-hand from deep on the left wing side by Mark Bennett. Ouellette then appeared to lose sight of the puck which sat free in the blue paint long enough to allow Jacob MacDonald to step in and swipe it home for his eighth of the year.
10:10 into the second the Jackals took a 2-1 lead on another somewhat less than stellar goal. Tyler Currier threw one from deep on the left wing side-just above the goal line-that pinballed through Oullette's pads and slipped across the goal line for Currier's ninth of the year. Reading pulled Ouellette at that point in favor of goaltender Connor Knapp.
Knapp was greeted rather rudely 2:56 later, when a clearing attempt by Reading hit the referee's skate and ricocheted into the low slot area, where Mike Marcou had a play on the puck before he was stripped by Bennett, who found himself pretty much wide open and all alone directly in front of Knapp. Bennett drilled the puck five-hole for his fifth of the year and the 3-1 lead-and what would prove to be the game winner.
With forty-eight seconds left in the second period, a heavy collision between Knapp and back-checking Marcou knocked Knapp out of the game after playing just 9:02 of game time and making one save on two shots. Ouellette then returned to the game and played through the conclusion of the contest.
Things remained status quo for most of the third-despite the fact that Reading benefitted from 3 power play chances, which included 51 seconds of five-on-three; but the game concluded with a flurry of goals. First, Elmira stretched their lead to 4-1 on a late game power play goal that resulted after a multi-shot crease battle ended when Goulakos forced his fourth of the year across the goal line from in tight.
Nine seconds later, the Royals cut the lead back to two (4-2) when Adam Comrie uncorked a rocket from just inside the offensive blue line for his tenth of the year. But the Jackals doused any hope for a miracle come-back with an empty-netter in relative short order, as Justin Kea buried his fourth of the year with 1:35 left to run Elmira's record to 4-2-0-0 against the Royals-with six more to go in the regular season series.
The Royals and Jackals meet for the seventh time this year tomorrow night (Saturday, December 19 @ 7:00 pm) at Santander Arena in Reading, when the Royals will celebrate "Pucks for Paws" and wear special jerseys that are currently up for auction on the Royals' website (www.royalshockey.com) to raise money for local animal shelters. The team will also celebrate the Teddy Bear Toss tomorrow night when fans are encouraged to throw stuffed animals on the ice after Reading's first goal of the game. Fans can also donate new, unwrapped toys to the US Marines and Toys for Tots, who will distribute those toys to kids in need. Tomorrow night, the Royals will also give away a "Royals and Friends" calendar courtesy of MP Butterworth and Associates; and during the intermission will have some exciting "wiener dog" races.
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 6:30 pm Eastern Time. 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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ECHL Stories from December 18, 2015
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