ROYALS SALVAGE A POINT DESPITE CHARLOTTE ONSLAUGHT
/ Los Angeles Kings
Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (17 – 18 – 5 = 39; 4th North Division) were pounded by a spirited 45 shot attack from the Charlotte Checkers, but survived to the shootout where the Royals lost in eight rounds, 3-2. Reading scored first and held a two goal lead early in the second period, before Charlotte solved Royals' goaltender Jeff Pietrasiak (9 – 11 – 1; 43-45; 6-8 in shootout). But the Checkers bagged back-to-back goals 2:09 apart mid-way into the second to tie things up. Despite a relentless Checker attack down the stretch, the Royals' defense and Pietrasiak held strong enough to get to the shootout, where the team lost for the fifth time in six tries this season.
Reading scored 4:28 into the game when Taylor Christie kept left point and fired a shot through traffic on Charlotte goaltender, Chris Holt (12 – 10 – 0; 18-20; 7-8 in shootout). Holt made the stop but the rebound fell to the top of the crease where Malcolm MacMillan was able to slip it in for his sixth of the season. The Royals are now 10 – 2 – 3 when scoring the game's first goal.
The Royals built a two-goal lead early in the second when Ned Lukacevic banked a puck off the left wing wall to Greg Hogeboom who received the pass on the fly and charged deep into the offensive zone on a two-on-one break with Dany Roussin. Hogeboom timed his centering pass brilliantly, hitting Roussin on the forehand; and he was able to bury the puck under the bar for his fourth of the season 2:50 into the period. A bit later in the second, the Royals' Kevin Saurette was called for hooking; and while he was in the penalty box, Reading got caught on a bad change and were called for a bench minor for too many men on the ice. In the ensuing five-on-three power play, the Checkers got on the board when Hugh Jessiman carried into the offensive zone and found Bruce Graham in the left circle. Graham ripped a snap shot high to the short side on Pietrasiak for his twenty-second goal of the season at the 6:21 mark of the second. 2:09 later, after a sustained fore-check, Charlotte tied the game when Zdenek Bahensky took control of a loose puck at the right side of the net and fired a short-side snap shot above Pietrasiak.
The two teams played up and down hockey through the remainder of the second, into the third and through the overtime, as the Checkers continued to come in waves, while the Royals mixed in a couple of scoring chances of their own. But both goaltenders made the stops they needed to make to get it to the shootout–where the net minders continued to control the day; but Dan Murphy (shooting first) and Adam Nightingale (shooting eighth) scored for Charlotte, while on James Hiebert (shooting fifth) was the only Royal who was able to bag his chance.