Reading, PA–The Reading Royals (41-20-7=89) battled back from two goals down to tie things at four in the third period but gave up a goal with just 1.8 seconds remaining in regulation to lose to the Wheeling Nailers, 5-4. This loss snapped a four game win streak for the Royals, who now have just a one-point lead in the North Division standings to the Nailers–who in turn have two games in hand on the Royals.
Reading scored first when Larry Courville forced a defensive zone turnover at the left side of the Nailers' net at the 8:50 mark of the first period. After stealing the puck, Courville was able to swipe it through the legs of Wheeling goaltender Andy Franck to give the Royals a 1-0 lead. Courville scored his second of the night–and ninth of the season–later in the first when the Royals were on a five-on-three power play. Shortly after a Chris Bala shot from the low slot hit the cross-bar, Bala fed the puck to the high slot to Reagan Rome, who fired the puck on goal. Franck made the original stop but left the rebound to the right side of the crease where Courville banged it home at the 18:48 mark of the first to make it 2-0, Reading.
The Nailers took control of the game in the second, scoring four unanswered goals: the first by Arpad Milhaly (a power play goal from the right side of the crease after it appeared that Reading goaltender Yutaka Fukufuji had it pinned) at 3:57; the second by Sean Collins (who finished from the mid-slot on a nice give-and-go with Milhaly) at 6:57; the third by Kurtis McLean (another power play goal on a one-time blast out of the left circle); and the fourth by Bo Cheesman (a hard shot off the rush from the slot) at 14:02.
The Royals, however, regained their composure in the third and made it a one-goal game (4-3) while on the power play when Doug Christiansen finished from the top of the crease after Courville slid the puck through the considerable traffic from the right side of the net. That goal, Christiansen's thirty-fourth of the season, came at the 10:03 mark of the third and seemed to re-energize the team.54 seconds later, Royals' defenseman Jeff State did a good job to step up at the right wing point and keep a Wheeling clearing attempt in the offensive end on the right wing side.
Shay Stephenson then took control of the puck on the half wall and ripped a hard snap shot on net that Franck kicked out with the right pad. However, Franck kicked the rebound to the top of the crease where Tyler Hanchuck quickly took control and buried it for his fourth of the season at the 11:24 mark of the third to tie things at four. The Royals played solid defense down the stretch–until the very end, at least, when the team seemed to soften a bit and allow Cam Paddock to carry the puck from end to end with time ticking down on the clock.
With just 1.8 seconds remaining, Paddock ripped the puck out of the right circle that beat Royals' goaltender, Yutaka Fukufuji (15-9-4, 23/28), on the short side and gave the Nailers the win and the important two points in the North Division standings.