Royals string together wins against tough opponent

This article can be found published on Something’s Bruin.
Dale Mitchell scored the Teddy Bear Goal in Saturday night's game. (Candice Monhollan)

Dale Mitchell scored the Teddy Bear Goal in Saturday night’s game. (Candice Monhollan)

READING, Pa. – It was the fourth time in a row the Reading Royals faced off with the Wheeling Nailers and like the previous night’s game, the Royals came away with a 6-3 win, taking 3-of-4 from the divisional opponent.

The back-to-back wins for the Royals were the first since Nov. 4-5. These two came against one of the top teams in the East and could prove to be a huge step forward for the team who went three weeks without a win.

“The good thing is that in the last two games, even if we had the lead and we kind of struggled a little bit with that lead and give them a chance to get back – those things we have to work, but it’s great as a team to find ways to win,” said forward Yannick Tifu. “Smiles are back in the room.”

The new players brought in my head coach Larry Courville to fill the depleted roster have stepped up in the last two days. Todd Griffith has three goals in three games and Andrew Favot has a goal and an assist in two with the Royals.

“It’s always nice to come back [to the ECHL] and contribute to my linemates who are getting me the puck and just need score the goals when the goalies aren’t looking,” Griffith said. “Reading’s treating me really good and I’m just happy to be here.”

Unlike the previous night, a goal was scored early into the opening stanza of the game. Dale Mitchell scored his seventh of the season 3:13 in and the teddy bears came pouring onto the ice from the crowd of 4,327.

The Royals couldn’t hold onto the lead this time around. With the penalty to Louis Liotti 30 seconds away from expiring, the Nailers tied the game off a goal from Paul Thompson. His shot rang off the crossbar and in behind goaltender Mark Owuya.

Just 18 seconds later, the Nailers jumped ahead with another shot high to Owuya, this time from Matt Lombardi on a 3-on-1.

With time winding down, the Royals were given a power play opportunity with Scooter Vaughan in the box for holding. Wheeling goaltender Patrick Killeen made the initial save, but Tifu whacked the loose puck in for his third goal in two games with 5:05 left in the first.

For the second night in a row, the Royals took control of the game in the middle period.

Griffith had another strong performance as he scored off a pass from Favot on the left side 3:10 in.

A beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play on a 2-on-1 between Mitchell and Yannick Riendeau led to Mitchell’s second of the night and a 4-2 lead at the 7:47 mark. He now has eight goals in 10 games with the Royals.

Tifu tallied his second of the night with almost a similar play to his penalty shot the night before. He once again drew out Killeen and scored easily. It was the fifth goal for the Royals on only 11 shots, but the Nailers could not pull Killeen since Peter Delmas was scratched.

A late power play for the Nailers gave them a little life back when Paul Crowder scored with 53.9 seconds left in the period to make it 5-3.

The Royals added one more for good measure in the third period. Favot scored his first as a Royal with his unassisted goal 8:09 in. The Royals would hold on to win 6-3.

It was only the third win at home for the Royals, but the two wins can be the turning point the team has been looking for.

“We’ve got stuff to work on,” said Tifu. “I know we’re kind of struggling, but we have some young players and we just have to get on board. It’s as a team and if everybody understands that at the end of the night, win 1-0 or 3-2, it’s the same result. You get the ‘W’ at the end.”

NOTES
The game marked the last of captain Ryan Cruthers‘ six-game suspension. He is eligible to return next game on Dec. 22 against the Greenville Road Warriors.

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Categories: ECHL, Ice Hockey, Sports

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