READING, PA- After going 4-1-1 on their 6-game road trip, the Reading Royals returned home Friday night as they host the Cincinnati Cyclones for the final time this season. The Cyclones took the first meeting back in late November by the score of 5-4. As the teams took the ice for warmups players on both sides were shocked to see that the ice was transformed to pink for the Royals “Pink in the Rink” game tonight.
With John Muse back up in Lehigh Valley, Royals coach Kirk MacDonald went with Branden Komm between the pipes. The Royals acquired Komm earlier in the week from the Manchester Monarchs for Adam Comrie’s ECHL playing rights. Comrie is currently up in the AHL with the Utica Comets.
As for Cyclones coach Matt MacDonald, he decided to start Jonas Johansson. The former third-round pick by the Buffalo Sabres was in net for Cincinnati in the first meeting and made 27 saves on 30 Reading shots.
Right out of the gate, the Royals showed that having last weekend off didn’t rust the team one bit, as Michael Huntebrinker rocketed one past Johansson off a Cyclones turnover right in front of their bench for his 15th of the season with 8:02 remaining in the opening period.
The Royals would add on to their lead as the hometown hero, Steven Swavely, would stuff one in on the power play less than seven minutes into the second for his sixth of the season. Matias Cleland and Alex Krushelynski with the assists. But the Royals weren’t done not by a long shot as Matt Willows would triple his team lead while extending his point streak to 11 games. For Willows, the lamplighter was his team-leading 19th of the season. Matias Cleland and Branden Komm picked up the assists this go around. Minutes later, Jimmy DeVito blasted another goal on Johansson for his eighth of the season and third as a Royal at the 11:05 mark of the middle frame. Adam Schmidt and Komm each picked up an assist.
This goal would send Johansson to the showers early as MacDonald brought in Jason Kasdorf on in relief. Kasdorf is no stranger to Royals fans, since he spent last season with the Elmira Jackals. He went up against Reading five times and the Jackals lost all five times with Kasdorf getting the loss in four of those meetings. Andy Iles got the loss in the other meeting.
Even with the switch in the Cincinnati net, the Royals continued their assault as with less than 3 minutes into the second, Huntebrinker contributed his second goal of the game. 54 seconds later the Royals would add one final goal in the period as Nolan Zajac blasted one past Kasdorf for his 10th of the season.
Past the halfway mark of the final period, Adam Schmidt would pick up his 10th of the season on the team’s fourth power play of the game. Exactly six minutes later Schmidt beat Kasdorf again for his 11th of the season to give Reading an 8-0 lead.
When the final horn sounded the Cyclones couldn’t get out of the building quick enough as the Royals dismantled Cincinnati tonight by the score of 8-0 with the help of four power-play goals on four power-play opportunities in front of 3,097 fans at the Santander Arena.
Entering the game, the Royals power play percentage was at 14.0% which was tied for 23rd in the league. Following the game, the number jumped to 16.1% which ties them with the Wichita Thunder for the 17th in the league.
On the other side of the coin, the Cyclones entered tonight with a penalty kill percentage at 78.5% which was tied for 24th in the league. After Friday night’s performance, that number went down to 76.6% which is worst in the league.
In his team debut, Branden Komm picked up his first shutout of the season and fifth ECHL career shutout behind 35 saves in net. His performance in net along with the offensive outburst helped improve the Royals record to 28-19-3 for 59 points which keeps the Royals in fourth place in the tough north division and one point behind Adirondack and Wheeling for second place.
The Royals will be back in action tomorrow night as they will host the Brampton Beast for the teams 11th annual Pink in the Rink game. Puck drop is at 7:00 EST.