Return of Owuya doesn’t change Royals’ streak of losses

This article can be found published on Something’s Bruin.
Matt Schepke assisted on both of the goals for the Royals in their overtime loss Thursday night. (Candice Monhollan)

Matt Schepke assisted on both of the goals for the Royals in their overtime loss Thursday night. (Candice Monhollan)

READING, Pa. – It’s a franchise record the Reading Royals were hoping to avoid, but the 3-2 overtime loss to the Trenton Titans made it come true. The Royals dropped their ninth straight game, tying the club’s record for most consecutive losses.

Unfortunately for the Royals, it was a game they should have won. A goal in the second period was waived off due to a high stick which would have given them a 2-0 lead and the penalties began piling up on the Royals. Head coach Larry Courville felt the game was lopsided in favor of Trenton.

“I thought we probably should have had a couple more power play opportunities,” Courville said. “It seemed like it was more one-sided tonight. There were a couple trips and holds – stuff that I thought maybe let go and then they call, I thought, a couple soft ones on us.”

An injection of fresh faces couldn’t turn the tide in favor of the Royals. Ray Macias, activated off injured reserve after missing almost a month, and Mark Owuya, reassigned from the Toronto Marlies, both played well in their return games.

“It was nice to get Macias back,” Courville said. “He had a good game tonight, but he hasn’t played in a month, so it’s hard to come back and be effective in your first game, but I thought he played very well. He was probably the best defenseman on the ice for us.”

Owuya played his first game with the Royals since Oct. 23. He spent time with the Marlies, going 5-2-1 with a 1.78 goals-against average and .936 save percentage.

“I’ve got to play better to be able to get starts here,” Owuya said. “You’ve got to win games. I really wanted to win today, but we’ve got to get it tomorrow.”

The Royals got on the board first. Matt Schepke passed the puck up to a speeding Dale Mitchell who skated around Titan’s defender Eric Baier and took a shot from the middle of the right circle to beat goaltender Brad Phillips for a 1-0 lead 12:54 into the first.

Though they were held to only three shots, the Royals held the lead after one period.

Reading came out hard in the second period and while on the power play, it looked as though the Royals had taken a 2-0 lead. As Phillips reached out to catch the puck in his glove, Olivier Labelle batted it out of mid-air and in the net, but referee Jon McIsaac immediately waived it off, claiming it was hit with a high stick.

“It’s a goal,” Courville said. “It’s not a high stick. We watched it on video over and over again. The stick is below the crossbar.”

Another unlucky situation unfolded at the end of the second. The Royals looked to have the momentum after killing off a double minor to Mitchell.

With time winding down, Yannick Tifu came bursting up the offensive zone and as he tried to break through two defenders, it looked as though Corey Syvret interfered with Tifu, knocking him to the ice and losing the puck. The Titans gathered the puck and came back the other way. Chase Langeraap shot the puck at Owuya, who made the stop, but the rebound came out the other side where Matt Germain fired it in the net with 41 seconds left to tie the game at 1.

The Royals lost the lead 2:15 into the third. Taking a pass down low, Andy Bohmbach’s wrap-around slipped through Owuya.

Unlike other games in the slump they’ve been through, the goal didn’t deflate the Royals as they tied the game 3:58 later. Schepke fired the puck coming down the left wing. The puck bounced off Phillips and landed in front of him. Dennis McCauley, barreling down towards the net, jumped on the rebound and gave the Royals life again.

The Royals gained a point for the third time in the last five games when the game headed to overtime. They once again had to kill a penalty in the extra frame after Macias flipped the puck into the crowd. They survived the kill, even with Mitchell having no stick, creating a 4-on-2.

The game looked to be heading into a shootout, but the Titans ended it with 19.6 seconds left. Owuya made a pad save on Adam Presizniuk’s backhander, but the rebound kicked right out to Ryan Hayes, who buried it in the net.

The loss sends the Royals to a 7-11-3-2 record and 10th place in the Eastern Conference.

“We’re scoring two goals a game,” Courville said. “We have to play a better sound, defensive game. We may have to win a game 1-0 or 2-1. That’s what we have to do.”

NOTES
Ryan Cruthers sat out the second game of his six-game suspension. He is not eligible to return until Dec. 22 against the Greenville Road Warriors.

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Categories: ECHL, Ice Hockey, Sports

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