Second period explosion ignites Royals to a win

This article can be found published on Something’s Bruin.
The Royals were able to score six goals on just 19 shots Friday night. (Candice Monhollan)

The Royals were able to score six goals on just 19 shots Friday night. (Candice Monhollan)

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – For the third consecutive game, the Reading Royals faced off with the Wheeling Nailers, this time in Johnstown’s Cambria County War Memorial Arena, home of the Johnstown Chiefs before they relocated down south. The Royals’ second period ignited the team to score four goals and defeat the Nailers by a score of 6-3.

Friday night’s game was one of the most complete games from the Royals with all facets of the team clicking, from the offensive to defense and down to goaltender Joe Palmer. It was also the closest the team has come this season to putting together a strong effort for the entirety of the game, though things became a little hairy in the third with numerous penalties.

“Tonight we made some strides of putting together a full 60 minutes,” defenseman Denny Urban said. “But we still have some work to do.”

Both teams had some great chances early, but both goaltenders were up to the challenge.

The Royals broke the scoreless game with 1:47 remaining in the first period. Justin Kemmerer, added to the team prior to the game, sent a pass from the left circle towards the net where Todd Griffith had an easy tap in past Wheeling goaltender Peter Delmas for his first goal of the season.

The second period was an offensive explosion from a team that has been struggling to put goals up on the board and it came in the period where the Royals have given up the most goals this season.

Griffith gave the Royals a 2-0 lead when he scored his second of the night 4:40 into the second period off a pass from newly acquired Andrew Favot.

It took only 17 more seconds for the Royals to build a 3-0 lead with Louis Liotti’s shot from the point beat Delmas. After allowing three goals on 11 shots, Wheeling coach Clark Donatelli pulled him in favor of Patrick Killeen.

It didn’t make much of a difference for the Royals as they continued to build on their lead. While killing a penalty to Dave Cowan, Yannick Tifu skated in on a short-handed breakaway, but was pulled down from behind and was awarded a penalty shot. Tifu’s dekes drew Killeen out of the net and onto his stomach for an easy shot and goal for a 4-0 lead.

The Royals still were not finished in the period as they struck again. Olivier Labelle deflected Urban’s shot from the point for a power-play goal at 10:12 of the second. It was his first goal since Nov. 19.

Despite the strong play of the defense and Palmer, the Royals bid for their first shutout of the season ended just shy of three minutes later. Paul Crowder banked a shot towards the net and the puck bounced of a Royal’s skate in front and behind Palmer.

The Nailers made things quite interesting in the third and a string of penalties late could have cost the Royals.

Denver Manderson’s shot from the point beat Palmer to pull the Nailers to within three only 1:48 into the period.

The Royals faced a 5-on-3 at the 8:24 mark, but Wheeling turned it into a 4-on-3 a little less than a minute later, saving what could have been a turning point for the home team.

Unfortunately for Reading, they gave the Nailers another opportunity with a 5-on-3 with roughly four minutes remaining in the game. This time, Wheeling took advantage. Crowder scored his second of the night at 16:53 to draw within two.

With 2:50 remaining, Donatelli pulled Killeen for the extra attacker. After a couple close calls, the Royals were finally able to hit the empty net. Tifu got his second of the night with 32 seconds to spare for a 6-3 win.

The Royals secured their seventh win on the road and have an overall record of 9-12-3-2.

Urban can’t explain the team’s success away from the Sovereign Center this season.

“I don’t really know why,” he said. “We just seem to be more focused when we are on the road.”

The Royals will look to take 3-of-4 from the Nailers Saturday night as they return home for their annual Teddy Bear Toss game. Unlike last weekend, the Royals look to build momentum from the win.

“We just have to play strong in the defensive zone tomorrow like we did tonight and the goals will come,” Urban said.

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Categories: ECHL, Ice Hockey, Sports

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