Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (19 – 19 – 5 = 43; t-2nd North Division) fell behind on an early five-on-three power play goal and were unable to muster a comeback in a 5-3 loss to Toledo. The Royals racked up 95 minutes in penalties, which included seven misconducts assessed against three players and Head Coach Karl Taylor, most of which came after a relatively significant breakdown in order during the mid-portion of the third period. Due to the series of penalties against the Royals during this stretch, Reading had to play two men short for four full minutes, ultimately allowing a second five-on-three power play goal, which put an insurmountable crimp in the Royals' comeback effort. Goaltender Jeff Pietrasiak (11 – 12 – 1; 28/33) picked up the loss playing in his twenty-first game in the last twenty-two for Reading.
Toledo got on the board 3:49 into the game with a five-on-three power play goal when Evan McGrath fired a shot from low in the right circle that beat Pietrasiak high to the short side. The Royals were two men short at this stage of the game because of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty assessed against Reading's captain, Chris Bala, who apparently argued a no-call when he was hauled down during a short-handed break into the Toledo zone The Royals tied things at one at the 15:33 mark of the first when Dany Roussin sprang James Hiebert with a long pass from the defensive blue line. Hiebert slipped behind the Toledo defense and fired a snap shot stick side on Ervins Mustukovs (2 – 0 – 0; 35/38) for his eleventh of the season. Toledo regained the lead a minute later when a bad bounce off the base board on the end wall on a clearing attempt by the Royals' defense resulted in McGrath taking possession of the puck deep in Reading's zone. McGrath skated behind the Reading net and fed the puck out front to Chris Blight, who was charging up the slot to take advantage of the fortuitous break for Toledo. Blight took the feed from McGrath and ripped it behind Pietrasiak for his eleventh of the year. Fifty seconds later, the Storm increased their lead to 3-1 when Mike Walsh slid a puck along the goal line out of the right corner that slipped through Pietrasiak and into the net for his fourth goal of the season.
The Royals went down 4-1 at the 5:25 mark of the second on almost a carbon copy of the goal scored by Walsh late in the first. On this one, P.J. Martin slid one along the goal line from out of the right corner that was pushed through Pietrasiak, who was pinching the right pipe, by Walsh as he crashed the net. Reading cut the Storm lead in half at the 10:32 mark of the second when Shawn Collymore threw a pass off the left wing wall towards Joe Zappala who was planted in the slot between the hash marks. Zappala redirected the puck towards the net, and it fluttered over the left shoulder of Mustukovs for his thirteenth goal of the season.
In the third, the Royals were attempting to mount the comeback, but got themselves into penalty trouble with a pair of minors called in quick succession at the 7:43 and 7:59 marks of the period. Eighteen seconds later, while the Royals were seeking to kill the five-on-three against, Bala was cross-checked from behind sending him head first into the boards. A relatively mild fracas ensued–particularly in light of the nature of the hit from behind on Bala. The Royals apparently believed that Toledo should have received the extra penalty on this sequence; so that, when that did not occur (the penalties assessed merely cancelled each other out–leaving Toledo with the two man advantage), a relatively wild exchange ensued, ultimately resulting in another minor penalty against the Royals' bench, as well as the ejection of Head Coach Karl Taylor from the game.
That's when things really got wild, as the Royals picked up two more minor penalties (again while battling Toledo's two man advantage), as well as series of misconducts. The end result had Reading playing two men short for four full minutes–and losing three players (and the head coach) to the locker room. Toledo scored their fifth goal during this sequence–another five-on-three short side rocket out of the right circle by McGrath–although the Royals did get a short-handed breakaway from Greg Hogeboom during that time, as well. Unfortunately, Hogeboom did not score on his opportunity; but Kevin Saurette did (after the Royals returned to full strength) to help the Royals draw within two again at 5-3. Unfortunately, that would be too little, too late as Toledo held on for their first win in four tries at the Sovereign Center this season.