ROYALS OVERCOME EARLY DEFICIT, DEFEAT WHEELING 4-1
/ Los Angeles Kings
Reading , PA –The Reading Royals (38-19-7=83) fell behind 57 seconds after the opening face-off; but regrouped and regained the momentum of the game with a quick response power play goal; and then used opportunistic offense and sound team defense to defeat the Wheeling Nailers, 4-1.
In this one, the Royals got all of the team's goals from two sources: two-goal performances by Larry Courville (who bagged his first multi-goal game of the season) and Doug Christiansen (who picked up his team leading thirty-first and thirty-second goals of the year). With this win, the Royals snapped a two game losing streak, extended the team's home winning streak to four games, and retook sole possession of first place in the North Division.
Wheeling struck quickly when defenseman Cliff Loya fired a snap shot from the left point on which Royals' goaltender, Yutaka Fukufuji (14-8-4, 30/31), made a stick stop. However, Fukufuji left a juicy rebound at the left side of the crease where Bo Cheesman seemed more than happy to take control of the puck and fire it into an essentially empty net to give the Nailers a 1-0 lead 57 seconds into the contest. The Royals bounced back just as quickly, however, on their first power play chance of the night. After a strong team forecheck resulted in maintaining possession of the puck in the offensive end, Shay Stephenson took a shot from the left circle that was partially deflected and bounced to the right side of the crease, where Larry Courville was able to settle it down and fire it home to tie the game at one 3:18 into the first period.
The Royals took their first lead of the game 7:34 into the second period on the team's second power play chance of the game. After strong play at the points by defensemen Eric Werner and Reagan Rome resulted in keeping the puck in the offensive end, Doug Christiansen ended up with the puck on the left side of the end wall. From there, Christiansen was able to walk out in front of the Nailers goal and slip one through goaltender, Andy Franck, to make it 2-1, Reading. The Royals took a 3-1 lead late in the period, when Jeff State fired a snap shot out of the right circle on which Franck made a stick stop.
However, he left a juicy rebound of his own at the top of the crease, and Courville was able to control it and wrap it around Franck's body for his second of the night and sixth of the season. Reading would cap the scoring in the third on a breakaway blitz by Christiansen at the 10:33 mark of the third. The play started when Wheeling sprang offensive juggernaut Sean Collins on a clean breakaway into the Royals end, and Fukufuji made a brilliant save that seemed to propel the Royals in the other direction. As Christiansen carried the puck into the offensive zone on the left wing side, he skated deep into the left circle and unleashed a high, hard rocket that beat Franck to the glove side. But the real key to this game may have been the Royals' team defense which minimized the chances for the Nailers' scoring sensations Collins, Kurtis McLean and Jordan Cameron throughout the night.