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ROYALS DROP NAIL BITER IN TOLEDO

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
Toledo, OH – The Reading Royals (2 – 1 – 2 = 6) lost the team's first game in regulation of the season to the Toledo Storm, 4-3, after coming back from a two goal deficit. The Royals picked up power play goals 1:45 apart late in the second period to tie the game at two, but a third period power play goal by the Storm–Toledo's first goal with the man advantage all season long–gave Toledo a lead they would not relinquish. In an unusual twist, a short-handed empty net goal with 27 seconds remaining (which gave Toledo a 4-2 lead) turned out to be the game winner, as Reading scored the team's third power play goal of the game with 18 seconds left to claw back within one as time ticked away.


Toledo struck first at the conclusion of a Royals power play, when a seemingly harmless clearing attempt by the Storm bounced over the stick of the Reading defender at the right wing point in the offensive end. As that puck slid towards the Royals' defensive zone, Toledo's Chris Blight stepped out of the penalty box and skated after the loose puck. Simultaneously, Reading's goaltender, Ryan Munce (1 – 1 – 2, 28/31, 1 eng) charged from his net in an attempt to get to the puck first. However, Blight won that race, skated around Munce and fired the puck from a relatively sharp angle into an essentially empty net to give Toledo a 1 – 0 lead 8:27 into the game.

In the second, the Storm took a 2 – 0 lead, when Ken Magowan scored a short-handed goal after the Royals' point men on the power play got caught deep in the offensive zone and allowed Toledo's Scooter Smith to break free with Magowan for an odd man rush. Smith charged to the Royals' net and shot wide to the short side–to the left side of the net–but the puck ricocheted off the end wall and came out on the other side of the net where Magowan was able to bat it home 11:30 into the period. The Royals scored the first of what would prove to be three power play goals in the game at the 16:24 mark of the second, when defenseman Roman Teslyuk scored his first pro goal by ripping a blast from the high slot that appeared to deflect slightly in an upward direction and beat Storm goaltender, Logan Koopmans (2 – 0 – 0, 33/36) over his glove hand. A minute and forty-five seconds later, the Royals tied the game at two with a power play goal by Arpad Mihaly–his sixth goal of the season–which was scored on the front end of a double minor assessed against Toledo's Chris Blight for high sticking. On this goal, Reading's power play worked the perimeter with several crisp passes before Doug Christiansen fired a cross-ice feed from the left side of the net that went through the crease to a waiting Mihaly who drilled a wrister under the bar with 1:51 remaining in the second period.

Toledo regained the lead at 3 -2 12:04 into the third period, when Mike Berry scored the first power play goal of the season for the Storm. After a sequence of murky play around the Royals' net and a failed clearing attempt by Reading, Berry ended up with the puck on the exterior portion of the right circle, and he simply uncorked a blast that pinballed off the far left goal post and into the net. After the Royals were awarded a power play with just 58 seconds remaining, the team pulled goaltender Munce to create a six-on-four skating advantage with an offensive zone face-off. Toledo, however, was ultimately able to control the puck and Smith scored a short-handed empty netter with just 27 seconds remaining to make it 4 -2. Reading, however, wasn't through. After winning the face-off to re-start play, the Royals quickly got the puck in the offensive end and defenseman Shawn Germain found defenseman Jason Becker in the high slot, and he fired a low hard snap shot glove side on Koopmans to make it a one-goal game again at 4-3. The Royals were unable to do anything with the puck in the last 18 seconds and ended up without a win at the Toledo Sports Arena for the eighth consecutive time, dating back to the North Division Semi-Final Playoff series in April of 2005.

For more information on the Reading Royals visit thier official team website at www.royalshockey.com

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