Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (3 – 1 – 2 = 8) shook off the doldrums of a lackluster first period–after which they trailed 1-0–and turned on the energy and effort down the stretch, racking up three power play goals to pull away from the Wheeling Nailers, 5-2. Captain Chris Bala, playing in his first game of the season after rehabbing off season surgery, scored a goal, racked up two assists, and provided much needed spark in critical moments to fuel the win. Similarly, Yutaka Fukufuji (2 – 0 – 0; 27/29) made several critical stops and big moments to give his teammates the chance they needed to re-group and pull out the victory.
Wheeling had the clear advantage in the first period and scored that period's only goal on a five-on-three power play 12:36 into the first. After a sustained sequence of offensive activity, Nailer defenseman Daniel Fernholm took a shot from the mid-right circle on which Fukufuji made a stick stop; but the rebound fell directly to the blade of Sean Collins' stick; and Collins, who was standing unguarded at the right side of the cage, had nothing but net to shoot at–and he did not miss–giving the Nailers the 1-0 lead.
The Royals shook the cobwebs out early in the second when Reading center, Shawn Collymore, found Chris Bala in front of the Nailer net 25 seconds into the period. Bala chipped it over the arm of Wheeling goaltender, Andy Franck (1 – 5 – 0; 31/36) to tie the game at one. The Royals took the lead 5:49 into the period, when Kevin Saurette scored the first of what would be two goals on the night. Malcolm MacMillan found James Hiebert breaking through the neutral zone, and Hiebert, in turn, slipped the puck ahead to the charging Saurette, who slipped himself behind the Nailer defense and stick-handled around Franck to make it 2-1, Reading. The Royals took a 3-1 lead with the team's first power play goal of the night, when Chris Bala went coast-to-coast before feeding off to Collymore, who chipped it over Franck at the 15:46 mark of the second.
In the third, the Nailers made it a one-goal game again on a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play from Joe Guenther to Bo Cheesman to Joe Jensen for the tap in at the 8:24 mark of the third. It appeared that Wheeling was going to tie it later in that period on another brilliant passing sequence that had Jon Foster wide open at the side of the Royals' net for the receipt of a Mat Goody pass. Foster's shot went wide, however; and the Goody picked up a hooking minor in the ensuing scrum that was exacerbated when he added an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the whistle. The Royals would score on both ends of the double minor assessed to Goody. The first came on a one-time blast by Jason Becker, who ripped his shot from the mid-slot after receiving a beautiful pass from Hiebert out of the left wing corner at the 13:26 mark of the third; and the second was scored when Saurette fished out a loose puck after Franck had appeared to stop another Becker blast 1:42 later. Those two power play goals gave the Royals a three goal cushion that they would hold to the final buzzer, winning 5-2.
Reading now travels to Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton to take on the Titans tomorrow (11/04) at 7:00 pm. Those two teams then return to the Sovereign Center in Reading for a Sunday afternoon matinee (4:35 pm). At Sunday's game in Reading, the first 2000 fans will receive a headset radio, courtesy of Deibler Dental, the sponsor of the Royals' In-Arena Broadcast. The Royals' game night broadcast can be heard live on ESPN Radio 1240 am (and on the internet through the Royals' website, www.royalshockey.com) (and, beginning on Sunday, inside the Sovereign Center at 93.3fm), with the broadcast kicking off thirty minutes before the opening face-off.
For more information on the Reading Royals visit thier official team website at www.royalshockey.com