Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (10 – 10 – 4 = 24; 2nd North Division) held two leads, but could not hold off the Wheeling Nailers, who scored two third period goals to win 5-3 and snap the Royals' win streak at three. Although Reading gave up the game's first goal, the Royals bounced back and led at 2-1 (in the first period) and 3-2 (in the second). However, Wheeling was able to tie it up at three before entering the third and went on to score two goals down the stretch to pull away and win, as the Nailers controlled the flow of the play in the third, despite having only 13 skaters at that stage of the game.
The Nailers struck first 5:46 into the game, when a defensive zone miscue near the Royals' goal resulted in a multiple shot opportunity for Wheeling right in front of the Royals' net, and Joe Guenther buried his second attempt against goaltender Jeff Pietrasiak (3 – 3 – 0; 22/27) for his twelfth of the season. Reading bounced back to tie things at one 12:37 into the first when Dany Roussin fed John Snowden in the right circle, and Snowden ripped a snap shot that beat the Nailers' goaltender, Andy Franck (10 – 11 – 1; 37/39), high to the short side. For Snowden that was his fifth goal of the season. The Royals took their first lead of the game while on the power play 3:08 later when Ned Lukacevic one-timed a puck from the right point that seemed to knuckle on net and beat Franck low to the glove side for his first goal as a member of the Royals. However, with just 13.7 seconds remaining in the period, the Nailers tied the game again at two when Joe Guenther carried deep on the right wing side and slipped a back hander towards the front of the net that went off the leg of a Royals defender, between the legs of Pietrasiak and into the net.
In the second, the Royals took their second lead at 3-2 when Chris Bala scored his ninth of the season–again while Reading was on the power play. Greg Hogeboom slid a pass across the top of the crease to Bala who was planted on the back door at the left side of the net and was able to force it through Franck 11:27 into the period. However, the Nailers tied things again (this time at three) when they bagged a five-on-three power play goal 2:04 later, after a brilliant perimeter passing sequence that involved all five skaters on the ice and resulted in a back door goal for Jordan Cameron.
In the third, the Nailers carried the play and scored the game winner just 2:41 into the period when defenseman Ryan Moren took a shot from the right point that Jon Foster re-directed out of mid-air into the upper reaches of the Reading net on the short side. The Nailers added some insurance at the 9:46 mark of the third when Moren finished a rush up ice with a virutally uncontested tap in from the top of the crease after receiving a feed from Jon Smyth. The Royals simply did not have the gas in the tank to muster a comeback at that point despite having a late power play and pulling the goaltender with almost two minutes remaining in the game.
The Royals now head out on a five game road trip starting in Wheeling on Friday (7:30 pm). Royals' game night broadcasts can be heard live on ESPN Radio 1240 am (and on the internet through the Royals' website, www.royalshockey.com
), beginning thirty minutes before the opening face-off. Streaming video is also available for $6.00 per game through the B2 Networks, which can be accessed through the Royals' website.