JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After losing in the opening minute of overtime Thursday night in Orlando, the Reading Royals loaded up the bus and headed north to square off against the Jacksonville Icemen. It would be the first time the Royals have played a game in Jacksonville and be the final regular-season meeting between the two teams with Reading taking the first meeting by the score of 5-1 back on November 11th. In that game, rookie defenseman James de Haas recorded a career-high four assists. de Haas is currently up in the American Hockey League with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms along with the Royals starting goalie from that game John Muse who, on Monday, was rewarded with a two-way NHL contract with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Branden Komm got the start between the pipes for Kirk MacDonald’s squad tonight. It was the fourth time this season that Komm has faced the Icemen and has gone 1-2 in the previous three games. As for Jacksonville head coach Jason Christie, Austin Lotz got the start for the fifth straight game. Lotz spent some time with the Royals last season and recorded two wins and only gave up five goals. Lotz was voted by Icemen fans as the team’s golden goalie and wore the golden goalie jersey in tonight’s contest.
The first period didn’t go in favor of the Royals. With 8:54 to go in the opening period the Icemen would find the scoreboard first Jimmy Lodge would find the back of the net on the power play for his 14th goal of the season. 12 seconds later Jacksonville would double their lead as Cody Fowlie picked up his third goal of the season. 49 seconds later, the Icemen would send Komm to the bench when on a delayed penalty, Bobby MacIntyre tripled his team’s lead with his sweet 16th goal of the season during a two-on-one rush for Jacksonville. Mark Dekanich would come in relief, but it didn’t get much better for the Royals as Dajon Mingo would find the back of the net for his fourth lamplighter this season. The Icemen would keep pouring it on as with 1:18 to go in the first, Elgin Pearce picked up his team-leading 19th goal of the season.
11 seconds into the second period Royals alternate captain Tyler Brown let some anger out as he decided to fight Tyson Fawcett. Brown came out victorious hoping to gain some momentum for Reading. For Brown, it would be his first tilt in five years, putting on the foil last during the days of the Adirondack Phantoms. It wouldn’t be the only fight of the period, though, as Scott Tanski decided to drop the gloves with Chad Thibodeau a little over two minutes later. Just like his teammate, Tanski would win the fight hoping to spark something for Reading. Nothing would come out of for Reading it as with 3:41 to go in the period Jimmy Lodge would contribute his second of the game on a five-hole goal on Dekanich after a three-on-one rush for Jacksonville.
Less than two minutes into the final period the Royals would finally beat Lotz as Ryan Penny would pick up his 13th of the season to avoid the team being the shutout for the fifth time this season. When the final horn sounded the Jacksonville Icemen would tame the Reading Royals by the score of 6-1.
The Royals falls to 31-21-5, good for 67 points. The Royals will have Saturday off to enjoy the Florida weather and be back in action Sunday afternoon against the Orlando Solar Bears for game five out of eight on this road trip. Puck drop is at 1:30 EST.