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ROYALS HAVE AN EMPTY FEELING IN WHEELING

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
Wheeling, WV – The Reading Royals (15 – 16 – 4 = 34; t-3rd North Division) started with verve, but slipped late in the first period and slowly waned from there falling to the Wheeling Nailers, 5-0. The Nailers got a couple of goals in the last minute of the first and perfect goaltending from Andy Franck (14 – 16 – 2; 40/40) to hand the Royals their second shutout loss of the weekend. Royals' goaltender Jeff Pietrasiak (7 – 9 – 0; 22/24; 40:00) played the first forty minutes and allowed four goals in taking his seventh loss in fourteen starts with the Royals this year.


Although the Royals, playing with just fourteen skaters for the third consecutive day, came out of the gates with a considerable jump in their step, Wheeling got on the board first when Grant McNeill threw a 'seemingly harmless wrister' from the high slot that went off the stick of a Royals' defender and into the net 16:30 into the first period. With time ticking down in the first, the Nailers took a two goal lead when Richard Colwill and Eric Sonnenberg crashed the Royals' net, creating a mad scramble out front. While Pietrasiak and the Royals' defenders attempted to clear out, Colwill was able to punch the puck across the crease to the left side of the net where Joe Jensen tapped a backhander into an essentially empty net with just 49 seconds remaining in the period. Twenty-three seconds later (with just 26 seconds remaining in the first) the Nailers' Cody Blanshan threw another one of those proverbial harmless wristers towards the net that went off the body of Colwill and into the Royals net to give the Nailers a three goal lead at the end of one.

In the second, the Royals generated 16 shots on Franck, but it was the Nailers who found pay dirt while playing with the man advantage, when Jensen walked off the right wing half wall to the center of the slot where he ripped a high hard one behind Pietrasiak for the 4-0 lead. In the third, Ryan Munce took over in Reading's net and was called upon to make a couple of big stops as the Royals' collective gas tank was running down towards empty. Wheeling got their fifth goal of the night at the 8:45 of the third when Ned Havern blasted one out of the right circle that went off the shoulder of Munce and fluttered into the net. The Royals pressed in an attempt to deny Franck his second shutout of the season, but he was able to make every stop he was called upon to make in this one.

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