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by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (32 – 33 – 7 = 71; 6th North Division) season came to an end on the final game of the regular season in a 6-3 loss in a virtual “play-in” game against the Johnstown Chiefs. With the win, the Chiefs took the fifth and final playoff spot in the North Division and will play the Trenton Titans in the North Division Quarter-Final Best of Three Series. The Royals fell behind 4-1 early as the Chiefs rang off four consecutive goals in a span of 5:41 in the first period; but the team battled back to make it a one-goal game by the mid-portion of the second period. The Royals pressed hard out-shooting the Chiefs 42 – 11 over the final 40 minutes and appeared to tie it in the latter stages of the third period with a goal that was waived off. Despite the Royals relentless comeback effort, Johnstown picked up a two goals—one an empty netter—in the final minute and a half to ice the game. Goaltender Yutaka Fukufuji (13 – 10 – 0; 26-30) suffered the loss for the Royals.

Reading struck first 1:31 into the game when Rob LaLonde sprang Dany Roussin on a breakaway with a long stretch pass from the defensive zone. Roussin took control, carried in, cut left (to his shooting side) at the top of the crease and beat goaltender Ryan Munce (10 – 10 – 5; 49/52) for his eighth goal of the season. Johnstown then got their ‘sea-legs’ and took control of the flow of the game and the scoreboard, scoring four goals in a span of 5:41 starting at the 7:47 mark of the first period, when Jean Desrochers put back a rebound of a shot directly off an offensive zone face-off. The Chiefs took a 2-1 lead 1:20 later when Andrew Martens took a shot from the left point that deflected off a glove and skipped behind Fukufuji into the net. Johnstown took a two goal lead three minutes later on a power play goal by Desrochers, who stuffed the puck in at the right side of the net after a wild scramble in front. The scoring spree came a conclusion 1:21 after that when Gus Katsuras put back a rebound from the right side of the net to make it 4-1.

Reading began the comeback effort at the 4:02 mark of the second period on their first power play opportunity of the night when Joe Zappala walked from the low right circle towards the center of the ice and ripped a snap shot that appeared to deflect off a Johnstown stick and into the upper reaches of the net for his twenty-second goal of the season. Zappala cut the lead to one (4-3) at the 9:49 mark of the second when he took a feed off the right wing half wall from Brett Smith, and Zappala stepped deep into the right circle where he uncorked a blast that beat Munce high to the glove side. In the third the Royals pressed hard, but Munce refused to give his former team any quarter. The one time the puck that did get in the net behind him—with 8:32 remaining in the game—occurred when Chris Bala batted a loose puck out of mid-air, and it was ruled that Bala had played the puck with a high stick, thus nullifying the apparent goal. The Chiefs added an empty netter by Desrochers with 1:30 remaining, as well as a shot by Zbynek Hrdel that beat Fukufuji 16 seconds later after he stole an attempted breakout pass. But the damage had already been done, as the Royals’ 2006-07 season came to an abrupt end in front of 7072 at the Sovereign Center

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