Royals dominate Jackals, Labelle all-time leader in goals

This article can be found published on Something’s Bruin.
The Royals salute their fans after the win. (Candice Monhollan)

The Royals salute their fans after the win. (Candice Monhollan)

READING, Pa. – The Reading Royals finished their four games in five day stretch with a dominating 6-2 win over the Elmira Jackals Sunday. The Royals took 2-of-3 from the Jackals over the weekend and the victory vaulted them back into first place in the Atlantic Division. It was also just the second win at home for Reading.

Just when it seems Karel St-Laurent makes a bid for the No. 1 spot, Joe Palmer steps his game up to a new level. His performance Sunday night was one of the best of the season as he made 39 saves to earn his fourth win.

The team as a whole also played well in front of Palmer and minus a few minutes in the second and third period, the Royals played a consistent and dominating game.

“It was a great game,” head coach Larry Courville said. “I thought Ryan’s [Cruthers] line was really clicking and moving the puck. I thought other guys helped out when they needed to….I thought we did a lot of little things that we need to do as a team.”

The line of Cruthers, Yannick Riendeau, and Olivier Labelle combined for seven points (4G, 3A) in the game.

“Today was our best game as a team,” Riendeau said. “We have to keep going on the road.”

In all three games against the Jackals, the Royals were the first to open the scoring. Riendeau snapped a shot from the right circle 14:39 into the opening frame. Rob Shearer added to the lead with his third of the year. Elmira goaltender Brian Stewart made the initial save on Marvin Degon‘s shot, but Shearer slammed the rebound in for a 2-0 lead 53 seconds later.

The Royals weren’t finished and picked up where they left off in the first. Early in the second, Reading picked up their first power play of the game and didn’t waste it. Labelle needed only eight seconds to easily tap in the puck from a perfect cross-ice pass from Cruthers.

A beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play from Labelle to Cruthers to Riendeau led to a 4-0 Royals lead and Riendeau’s second of the night 6:01 into the second period. Following the goal, Stewart was pulled in favor of Timo Pielmeier.

Cruthers joined his linemates in the goal-scoring category seven minutes later. He banged in a loose puck at the side of the net during a Royals two-man advantage to make give the team a commanding 5-0 lead.

Palmer’s bid for the first Royals’ shutout ended at the 15:52 mark of the second period. With Chad Painchaud in the box for roughing, the Royals botched a clearing attempt. Craig Rivet took a shot from the point and the Evan Barlow knocked in the rebound.

They weren’t finished as they struck again early in the third. With Palmer down on the ice, Elmira’s Kyle Reeds kept jamming under Palmer’s pad and knocked the puck in for his first pro goal.

Dennis McCauley restored a four-goal lead while shorthanded just over four minutes later. Flying down the right-wing side, he fired a shot that beat Pielmeier to makes it 6-2. It was the first shorthanded tally for the Royals this season.

Though the Royals now own a 7-6-1-0 record, Courville sees a difference in the team that wasn’t there in the first few games of the season.

“Our record is one game above .500,” Courville said. “Am I happy with that? No. The last few games I think we’re starting to come together and guys are starting to buy into their roles. Other guys that weren’t playing well initially are actually stepping up and playing really well now.”

Matt Schepke wearing the special camouflage jerseys the Royals wore Sunday night. (Candice Monhollan)

Matt Schepke wearing the special camouflage jerseys the Royals wore Sunday night. (Candice Monhollan)

With Veteran’s Day on Friday, the Royals honored America’s military personnel during Sunday’s Military Recognition Game. The players wore special purple camouflage jerseys that were auctioned off following the win. All net proceeds from the auction went to the Keystone Wounded Warriors Project.

Labelle’s goal in the game was his 54th as a Royal, making him the all-time goal scoring leader in franchise history.

“It’s good to score goals,” Labelle said. “It’s good to put up good numbers where you are…I just try to do my best to help the team out.

Labelle, in his third season with the Royals, has compiled 86 points (54G, 32A) in 107 games with the team.

“It’s definitely an accomplishment – something to be proud of,” Courville said. “He’s earned it. He’s always been a performer for us. His work ethic on our team is probably unmatched. It’s a nice accomplishment for him. I’m proud of him.”

John Scrymgeour was activated off injured reserve and was inserted in the line-up.

Matt Caruana, who has been out with an injury since Oct. 28, was cleared for physical contact Sunday. He is expected to be back in the lineup on the upcoming road trip, Courville said.


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Categories: ECHL, Ice Hockey, Sports

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