Royals can’t keep momentum from win

This article can be found published on Something’s Bruin.
Since rejoining the Royals this season, Dale Mitchell has scored six goals in eight games. (Candice Monhollan)

Since rejoining the Royals this season, Dale Mitchell has scored six goals in eight games. (Candice Monhollan)

READING, Pa. – It was a new, more confident team that appeared in the beginning of Sunday night’s Reading Royals game against the Wheeling Nailers. The confidence was back, the passes were crisper, and the team battled hard.

Unfortunately for the Royals, it didn’t last long as they reverted back to the team that had lost nine straight and the Nailers took advantage as they skated away with a 4-2 win.

“I just think we got away from what we do well as a team,” forward Dale Mitchell said. “We have a fast group of forwards up front, so when we get pucks deep and we work their defensemen, we’re tough to stop. I thought we got away from that after the first period.”

Goaltender Mark Owuya received his third consecutive start in net and made 35 saves en route to his second regulation loss with Reading.

The Royals came out flying to begin the game. The comeback win Friday against the Wheelers gave them the confidence they had been lacking to make players and complete passes and just be aggressive overall against a top team in the division and conference.

The Royals struck first, and struck early. Exactly one minute into the game, Denny Urban fired a shot from the point that was deflected in by Dennis McCauley for his third in three games.

The lead was short-lived as the Nailers tied things up on their first shot 3:33 later. Chris Barton passed the puck from the left circle to Kyle Bushee high in the slot, who scored five-hole on Owuya.

A beautiful play from the Royals started by McCauley set up another goal and lead. McCauley stripped a Nailer of the puck in the neutral zone and fed a pass to Everett Sheen, who followed up with a feed over to Mitchell. He skated to the right hashmark and sniped a high shot past goaltender Patrick Killeen with 2:29 left in the period for a 2-1 lead heading into intermission.

Unfortunately for Reading, the momentum slipped away and the Nailers took control of the game. With the Royals on the power play, the puck was turned over and Olivier Dame-Malka scored short-handed to tie the game 3:21 in.

The Nailers received their first lead of the game 11:46 into the second. In what seemed to be an odd play, Owuya remained standing after a shot from Barton. The puck landed in the crease where Paul Crowder knocked it in to make it 3-2.

The Royal finished the second down a goal and were limited to just two shots compared to Wheeling’s 16.

The Royals came out better in the third, but it wasn’t enough to battle back.

The Nailers added to their lead 8:50 in the final frame with an easy goal. Owuya attempting to make several saves had him down and out of the crease, leaving a wide open net for Ben Farrer to take a 4-2 lead.

It seemed as though the Royals scored with 57.5 seconds left with the extra attacker. Rob Shearer deflected a pass from Olivier Labelle. The puck slid under Killeen’s body as he dove behind him. The puck looked to have crossed the goal line, but with Killeen blocking it, the referee signaled no goal. After reviewing it with the linesmen and goal judge, the call stood and the Royals fell to the Nailers for the second time this season.

Reading owns a league worst 2-8-1-1 record on home ice and will face the Nailers again over the next two games.

“When we give a team like that an opportunity for 20 minutes to capitalize, they’re going to do it,” Mitchell said. “You don’t want to be battling behind in the third period.”

The Royals signed Chase Watson and Todd Griffith prior to the game. Neither registered a point.

Casey Haines has been cleared to begin skating, according to Jason Guarente of the Reading Eagle.

John Scrymgeour was placed on three-day injured reserve after leaving Friday night’s game early with an injury.

In April 2011 while the Royals were battling the Cincinnati Cyclones in the first round of the playoffs, Mitchell suffered an ACL tear in his right knee, knocking him out for the remainder of the postseason.

After rehabbing over the summer and into the start of the 2011-12 season, Mitchell finally returned to the ice with the Royals Nov. 19 in a game against the Toledo Walleye where he scored a short-handed goal.

“They’ve got a good staff [in Toronto] and they’ve really helped me out through my rehab and getting me back to 100-percent and giving me the opportunity to play again,” Mitchell said. “I have some good days and bad days. It’s tough to say, but overall it’s getting better.”

He played in one more game before missing the next two when the injury flared up, but once he came back in the lineup Nov. 30, he has netted five goals in six games, including four in the last three.

“Getting some goals early this year, especially coming off this injury, it’s been a big confidence booster for me,” he said. “Just trying to get better every day is the main goal.”

It has been tough to break in with the Toronto Marlies as the roster has become crowded. If it means Mitchell will remain with the Royals for the season, he is okay with the decision.

“I’ll help the team out and hopefully go for a good playoff run,” Mitchell said. “[I’ll] just play my game and try to get better every day and if it doesn’t work out with me in Toronto, it can always work out somewhere else. I’m just happy to play the game of hockey. I’m pretty privileged to play this game.”


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Categories: ECHL, Ice Hockey, Sports

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