ROYALS TRIPPED BY THIRD PERIOD POWER PLAY GOALS, 4-2
/ Los Angeles Kings
Trenton, NJ – The Reading Royals (13 – 12 – 4 = 30; 1st North Division) gave up back-to-back power play goals separated by only 27 seconds midway into the third period and lost to the Trenton Titans, 4-2. The Royals battled back twice to tie the game at one and two; but, in the third, the Titans capitalized on a five-on-three man advantage, and then scored on the 'back-end' of that power play shortly thereafter to take the lead for good. Royals' goaltender, Jeff Pietrasiak (6 – 5 – 0; 22/26) made several big stops at big moments in his ninth consecutive start for Reading, but could not thwart the Titans third period thrust.
Trenton got on the board first on the Royals' first power play of the night, when Troy Riddle stole and jumped out for a short-handed rush early in the first period. Riddle carried deep on the left wing side and took a shot that was stopped by Pietrasiak, but a Royal defender inadvertently redirected the loose rebound to the open side of the net where the Titans' Jim Henkel was able to take control and put it in for the short-handed goal 5:20 into the game. The Royals returned the favor at the 15:27 mark of the first when Jason Becker sprang Joe Zappala for a short-handed break behind the Titan defense. Zappala was able to force one through the legs of Trenton's goaltender, Joel Martin (7 – 7 – 0; 26/28) for his tenth goal of the season and his first pro short-handed goal–and the team's ninth SHG of the year. Trenton, however, regained the lead late in the first, when defenseman Peter Tormey threw a seemingly harmless wrister from the left point that Mike Pandolfo redirected behind Pietrasiak for his nineteenth of the season with 2:31 remaining in the period.
In the second, the Royals held the clear advantage in play out-shooting the Titans 12-5 and finally capitalizing with the game tying goal 16:25 into the period, when Becker made a brilliant defensive play in the neutral zone to stop a Titan rush and create a transition opportunity for the Royals in the other direction. Chris Bala ended up with control of the puck in the offensive end and floated from right to left in the mid slot until he was loose in the left circle where he ripped a snap shot short side on Martin to tie the game at two.
In the third, the two teams played up-and-down, exciting–albeit scoreless–hockey until the mid-portion of the period when the Titans were awarded 1:25 worth of five-on-three. Ten seconds into the two man advantage, at the 9:36 mark, Trenton worked the perimeter until Troy Riddle controlled the puck at the left side of the Royals' net. Riddle attempted to sneak a pass across the top of the crease to a back-door recipient, but a Royal defender placed his stick flat upon the ice, preventing the pass from going through, but also knocking the puck back onto Riddle's stick, who had nothing but net to shoot at because Pietrasiak had slid to the opposite side of the goal, anticipating the pass. Twenty-seven seconds later Trenton took a two goal lead (4-2), while still on the power play, when Mike Pandolfo shoveled a back-hander on net that Pietrasiak stopped with his chest, but was unable to control the rebound, which fell to the top of the crease, where John Laliberte was able to slip it through a maze of legs and into the goal. The Royals pressed late but were unable to create enough sustained offensive opportunity to solve Martin, who ran his record to 4 – 2 – 0 against Reading this year.