Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (21-8-2=44), playing with a line-up that included three new players signed today (Graig Mischler, B.J. Stephens, and Brad Sullivan), fell behind early and were unable to muster the offensive pressure necessary to put together any hope for a come back, ultimately losing to the Wheeling Nailers, 5-1. Playing with a line-up depleted by call-ups to the American Hockey League, the Royals lacked consistency and cohesiveness, as the Nailers maintained control of this game through long stretches and, with the win, took a two-point lead on the Royals in the North Division standings.
The Nailers scored early when Kurtis McLean beat Royals' goaltender Yutaka Fukufuji for his twenty-fifth goal of the season just 1:12 into the game. McLean's line-mates, Sean Collins and Jordan Cameron, gained control of the puck off a strong forecheck and found McLean standing on the doorstep for a quick shot to take the 1-0 lead. Wheeling went up 2-0 at the 14:48 mark of the first when Cam Paddock was credited with a goal after a Nailers' shot off the rush was stopped by Fukufuji but appeared to go off the skate of a Royals' defenseman, who was backing into the net, causing the puck to end up in the goal. 1:41 later, the Nailers went up 3-0 when they scored on their fourth power play of the night. After a nice series of passes between McLean and Jordan Cameron, they found Drew Fata high in the right circle, and he ripped a hard snap shot that blitzed by everyone and into the net.
Cameron scored one of his own 3:35 into the second, when he put back a loose puck after Fukufuji made a stop on a Sean Collins' shot from low on the right wing side. Thirty-seconds later, Wheeling's Mike Doyle was awarded a penalty shot–the third penalty shot that Fukufuji has had to face in his last seven games; and, like the other two, Fukufuji was to the task stopping the attempt by Doyle. But twelve seconds after the failed penalty shot, Wheeling's Bo Cheesman fired one out of the left circle that beat Fukufuji high to the glove side to give the Nailers the 5-0 lead. The Royals finally got on the board at the 6:27 mark of the second when they capitalized on a five-on-three power play. Newcomer Mischler found Chris Bala in the high slot, who in turn found Dany Roussin planted at the side of the Wheeling net. Roussin was able to slip the puck through the Nailers' goaltender, Andy Franck, to make it 5-1. The Nailers played solid hockey from that point forward, and the Royals were unable to muster any consistent offensive pressure, as the Nailers won for the third time in four tries against Reading.