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by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (30 – 31 – 7 = 67; 5th North Division) fell behind 32 seconds into the game and were never able to get the ship righted in a 4-1 loss to the Trenton Titans. In a game where Reading out-shot and appeared to out-chance the Titans, the Royals dug themselves a three goal first period hole out of which they were never able to climb thanks in large part to a solid performance on behalf of Trenton goaltender, Gregg Naumenko (21 – 14 – 3; 37/38). The Royals starting goaltender, Jeff Pietrasiak (14 – 18 – 3; 5/8; 20:00), was replaced after one period by Curtis Darling (no decision; 19/19; 37:27), who made all nineteen stops he was called upon to make in his first appearance as a pro.

Trenton came out storming straight from the opening face-off and scored on their second shot of the game, when Benoit Mondou walked off the left wall to the center of the slot where he ripped a snap shot that beat Pietrasiak high to the stick side thirty-two seconds into the game. The Titans capitalized twenty-two seconds into their second power play of the night on a transition rush started by Rosario Ruggeri. Troy Riddle carried deep into the right circle and fed Jim Henkel on the right hash-mark. Henkel drilled a snap shot high glove side on Pietrasiak for his nineteenth of the season at the 14:00 minute mark of the first period. The Titans built a 3-0 lead 1:55 later off of another transition rush. This time Mike Manley fed Riddle, who carried to the top of the right circle where he blasted a slap shot low stick side on Pietrasiak for his twenty-sixth of the season.

Despite numerous quality scoring chances, the Royals were unable to solve Naumenko until the 7:15 mark of the second period when Malcolm MacMillan won an offensive zone face-off in the right circle back to Eric Werner at the right point. Werner uncorked a low, hard blast that beat Naumenko to the stick side for his first goal in his fourth game with the Royals' this year. The Royals continued to press and Darling kept the team alive with a series of big stops through the remainder of the game. Reading pulled Darling with 2:33 remaining and Les Haggett bagged an empty netter with 1:17 remaining to silence any comeback hopes for the Royals in this one.

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