Royals blanked by Nailers as they continue struggles at home

This article can be found published on Something’s Bruin.
Jussi Rynnas was only pulled once this season prior to Wednesday night's game. (Candice Monhollan)

Jussi Rynnas was only pulled once this season prior to Wednesday night’s game. (Candice Monhollan)

READING, Pa. – For the second time this season, the Reading Royals were shutout – once again on home ice – with a 5-0 loss to the divisional rival Wheeling Nailers.

Since the third period meltdown last game on Jan. 21, the Royals have allowed eight straight goals. Hardly a comforting stat for a team struggling to get into playoff contention.

“It’s hockey,” forward Casey Haines said. “The main point is to just put more goals up than they do and we’re just not doing it right now.”

The Royals got off to a good start, but failed to keep up the strong effort and ultimately were out-played in the last two periods.

“I thought we had one of our best first periods,” head coach Larry Courville said. “We had opportunities to score. We played well defensively and we kind of got away from our game in the second. We stopped hitting.”

In net for the Royals was the recently assigned Jussi Rynnas from the Toronto Marlies, playing in his first game after suffering a concussion from taking a puck to the mask. Along with the team, he had a solid and strong first period, stopping all 10 shots, but his play dipped after the first goal of the game.

“In my opinion, he should have had at least two of the five goals,” Courville said. “Maybe even three.”

Rynnas agreed on the coach’s sentiments.

“I should have those two first goals,” he said. “Maybe those goals were the breaking point in this game.”

Rynnas refused to blame the string of injuries he’s had or the fact that he hasn’t played a game in over two weeks.

“Shit happens,” he said. “In the long run, everybody has small injuries. I can’t go behind that. I have to keep my focus all the time and play better.”

The first period was an evenly fought battle between the Royals and Nailers with neither side gaining any clear advantage. It was a stalemate both on the score sheet and in stats as the first ended scoreless with both teams generating 10 shots each.

The Royals team that started the game forgot to return after the first intermission. The team came out and looked sloppy from the net on up to the forwards.

The Nailers opened the scoring 2:16 into the period and never looked back. Peter Lenes scored a sniper’s goal as he skated down the right side and ripped one top shelf on Rynnas.

Wheeling, who was tied for fifth on the power play on the road coming into the game, continued their success. While Ryan Cruthers was in the box for slashing, Nick Petersen sent a pass from behind the net to Denver Manderson, who took a shot through traffic for a 2-0 lead at 6:25.

Manderson added his second of the night with 2:35 left in the second. A rebound left in the crease by Rynnas was picked up Manderson waiting in front and he scored his 11th of the season.

The Royals barely escaped the second period only trailing by three, but a hopeful turnaround in the third just wasn’t going to transpire as they continued to struggle throughout the remainder of the game.

The Nailers increased their lead to four goals 26 seconds into the final period. Cody Chupp’s shot hit a stick in front and bounced over Rynnas’ shoulder.

Just for good measure, Petersen scored a goal in his first game of the season 1:55 after Chupp to make it 5-0 with another top shelf goal. Courville pulled Rynnas after allowing five goals on 29 shots. Karel St-Laurent came on in relief and stopped all 12 shots he faced with a couple of big saves.

Unfortunately for the Royals, they could not solve Patrick Killeen in the first period and were not able to generate a lot of good chances in the last 40 minutes to get one past him and were shutout for the second time this season.

The Royals head out on a six-game road swing where they hope to rebound and continue their better play on the road. For Courville, he has to find some kind of spark to kick the team back into gear.

“Maybe some line combinations need to be switched up and see if we can get something generated,” Courville said. “That’s where we’re at right now.”

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Categories: ECHL, Ice Hockey, Sports

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