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by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
Reading, PA–The Reading Royals battled back after giving up two early goals to take two separate leads, but, echoing a theme that sounded throughout the entire series, the Wheeling Nailers scored a third period game winning goal to take Game Four and the North Division Semi-Final Series, 5-3. In all three of their wins in this best of five series, the Nailers broke a third period (or overtime) tie by scoring a late game winning goal against the Royals, who were plagued by injuries throughout the series–most notably to both of the team's regular goaltenders.

Wheeling got on the board early, when Sean Collins broke behind the Royals' defense and scored his fifth goal of the playoff series by firing the puck under the right arm of Yutaka Fukufuji (18:03, 6/9) 3:37 into the first period. Forty-six seconds later, the Nailers took a 2-0 lead when Kurtis McLean was able to sweep a loose rebound from the low slot behind Fukufuji after he had stopped a Daniel Fernholm shot from the right wing point. The Royals got on the board 1:47 later, when Chris Bala slide one through Wheeling's goaltender, Andy Franck, after a scrum in front of the net while Reading was on their first power play of the night. The Royals tied the game at two with their second power play of the night, when Mike Kompon threw a beautiful back-door feed to T.J. Kemp who had slipped down on the left side and finished with a high hard snap shot at the 15:37 mark of the first. Reading took the team's first lead of the night 2:10 later when Jamie Chamberlain blasted a Malcolm MacMillan drop pass off the rush that beat Franck high to the glove side. However, with just 1:07 left in the first, Tim Verbeek forced a puck through Fukufuji from the top of the crease that tied the game at three and sent Fukufuji to the ice in pain. The Royals then substituted the newly acquired emergency back-up goaltender, twenty year old Bryan Bridges, into the net.

In the second, the Royals took their second lead of the night, when Kevin Saurette fired a hard snap shot off the rush high to the glove side behind Franck 5:35 into the period. But shortly after Bridges had stopped a penalty shot taken by Bo Cheesman of the Nailers at the 18:55 of the second, the Nailers continued another trend of this series (i.e. late period goals) by scoring with just 38 seconds remaining in the second when Kurtis McLean was able to force a rebound through Bridges to tie the game at four. In the third, the lone goal would go to the Nailers' Jordan Cameron who fired a back-hander from the mid slot that went off a Royals' defenseman's stick and over the extended left arm of Bridges 12:21 into the period. Once again, the Royals poured on the pressure down the stretch, but it was not to be, as Reading 's fifth anniversary season came to a close with the 5-4 loss.

For more information on the Reading Royals visit thier official team website at

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