Royals Fall In Wild Finish In Johnstown, 6-4
Johnstown, PA - The Reading Royals of the ECHL (5-4-1-112, t-2nd East Division), affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League and the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League, fell to the Johnstown Chiefs, 6-4, at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The loss extended the Royals winless streak in Johnstown to eight consecutive games (0-6-2) dating back to January 27, 2008. The Royals battled back from a 4-0 deficit with four straight third period goals, but Johnstown got a pair of late power play goals-one an empty netter-to pull out their first home win of the year. Goaltender Matt Dalton (0-1-0-0; 37/42; 1 eng) sustained the loss in his first ECHL start; while Johnstown's Shane Connelly (2-3-0-0; 25/29) beat the Royals for the first time in three starts against Reading. The Royals power play was held off the board in six chances with the man advantage; while Johnstown got three, including the game winner, in nine power play opportunities.
The Chiefs struck 8:54 into the first when Bryan Marshall carried across the offensive blue line, drew two Royals' defenders towards him, and dished to Ryan Menei, who was breaking hard on the right wing side. Menei carried deep into the right circle and ripped a shot on net. Dalton made the stop, but the rebound fell to Mike Bartlett who put it in for his second of the year. Johnstown then rang off three straight in the second period, starting with a power play goal by Connor Shields 10:50 into the period. Troy Schwab carried deep on the left wing side and fired a cross-crease pass to Shields who redirected into the net for his fifth of the season. 1:44 later, Matt Robinson was allowed to walk down the gut and rip a snap shot by Dalton for his second of the year. Late in the period, while the Royals were on the power play, Sean Berkstresser was able to slip by the Royals point man and race off on a short-handed break. Berkstresser ripped a perfect shot from deep in the right circle high blocker side on Dalton to register the first short-handed goal of the year against Reading-and make it 4-0 Johnstown.
The Royals began the team's comeback effort 4:26 into the third period, while the teams were playing four aside. Ben Gordon forced his way into the slot, where he was tightly guarded by several Johnstown defenders. As Gordon was taken to the ice, he was somehow able to force a pass to the right side of the net, where Ryan Cruthers deflected it in for his second goal of the year. 1:11 later, Reading cut Johnstown's lead to 4-2 with the Royals' first short-handed goal of the season. Gavin Morgan took control in the left wing corner in the offensive zone, and with his back to the center of the ice, dropped a blind back-hand pass to the high slot, where Andrew Sarauer took control, carried in, walked around Connelly, and jammed in his second goal of the year. Reading then drew within one (4-3) at the 8:03 mark of the third, when Cruthers fed Gordon in the slot; and Gordon uncorked a bullet high blocker side on Connelly for his third goal of the year.
With 4:11 left in the game, Johnstown defender Mike Knight took a dangerous fall into the end wall in the Chiefs' defensive zone. A hit from behind major (and game misconduct) was assessed against Reading's Olivier Labelle, sending Johnstown on a power play for the remainder of the game. It was the Royals, however, who first capitalized during this time with the team's second short-handed goal of the night. Charlie Kronschnabel sprang Stefano Giliati with long bomb, stretch pass out of the defensive zone to high in the neutral zone. Giliati broke behind Johnstown's defenders, settled the puck, and fired a quick snap shot that beat Connelly for his seventh of the year-and to tie the game at four with 3:09 remaining.
Despite this turn of events, Johnstown bounced back with a power play goal with just 1:52 remaining in regulation. Schwab started a scramble around the Royals' goal, and Shields hacked at the loose puck forcing it through Dalton for what proved to be the game winner. Johnstown added an empty netter thirty-four seconds later, but the damage had already been done, as the Royals lost in regulation for the fourth time this year.
The Royals return to the Sovereign Center on Friday night (November 13 @ 7:05 pm), where the team will face the Trenton Devils for the first time this year. Friday's broadcast time is 6:35 pm on the Royals Radio Network presented by Transmissions by Arbogast. To become a part of Royals hockey, call 610-898-PUCK or log onto www.royalshockey.com.
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