Friday Night at Elmira
The Royals concluded their season-opening three-game road swing in Elmira Friday night looking for their second win of the season. The Jackals squad & their fans were in for a treat with ex-player Kevin Sundher back in town, but in a different uniform. Nothing was going on in the first five minutes as each team had good opportunities including a Royals power play. Reading would get on the board first in this game as this is the first from Kevin Sundher as he snuck the puck by Elmira’s starter C.J. Motte for the 1-0 Royals advantage. Just 61 seconds later, Jacob McDonald would tie the game single handedly and that would do it after 20 minutes of play.
The second period was physical, which ultimately lead to Reading’s Sam Windle (first career fight) fighting with Elmira’s Taylor Stefishen, who is no stranger to dropping the gloves. The tilt sparked the Royals as Kevin Sundher would bury his second of the game off a rebound for a 2-1 lead. Before the period could end and Elmira slowing the pace down, the Royals got some insurance as captain Maxim Lamarche would wrist a beauty by Motte which gave the Royals a 3-1 lead after two periods.
Reading held on to that two-goal lead for most of the third period. Goaltender Martin Ouellette wasn’t that busy as he only saw a total of nine shots in the third. Adam Comrie would add the icing on the cake after a diving attempt from a Jackal who tried to sweep and/or block the puck away from Comrie to give the Royals a 4-1 lead. Sundher would add his third goal on the night to cap off the scoring at 5-1. Martin Ouellette made 20 saves for his second win of the season.
Saturday Night v. Elmira
After three straight on the road to kick off the 15th anniversary season, it was finally time for the Royals nation to see their team inside “the jungle.”
After a two hour block party in which the Gin Blossoms rocked the downtown area, it was finally time for some home hockey and let’s just say the party was better than the game. Before the game, Martin Ouellette, who has the only two wins for Reading this season, was summoned to Lehigh Valley after it was announced that Flyers netminder Michal Neuvirth was injured.
Connor Knapp got the start for the home opener while Nick Niedert was signed to back him up. Elmira wasted no time getting the scoring started as Cason Hohmann picked up his first of the night just 1:50 in. Just like the night before, there would be a quick response as Robbie Czarink on a two-on-one with Sundher buried his 2nd of the season to make it 1-1. Late in the period, Sam Windle took a bad interference penalty in which Elmira capitalized on as Taylor Stefishen beat Knapp for the 2-1 Jackal lead.
The second period was not much fun for the Royals. Hohmann scored his 2nd just 1:07 in and shortly after that Jackals captain and assistant coach Nathan Oystrick buried one from the blue line and it was 4-1 Jackals. Coach Courville saw enough and pulled Knapp after allowing four goals on 10 shots. Nick Niedert, who hasn’t played a game for the Royals since a 10/27/12 shootout loss at Wheeling, was called upon to relieve Knapp but really did not fare much different. Niedert tried to keep his team in it, but it was to no avail. The Royals could not respond the rest of the evening despite a beauty of a goal from former Jackal Riley Armstrong to cut the Jackal lead to 5-2.
The Royals were down three after two and really did not mount a comeback. Elmira tackled on two more including a Stefishen’s second goal of the night and first as a pro from recently assigned Josh Chapman. That pretty much did it as Reading fell and fell hard 7-2 to Elmira.
The Royals look to get some revenge as the two teams will play again Wednesday night at Santander Arena. Will the Royals shake off the terrible spanking? We’ll find out soon enough. Expect to see Connor Knapp back between the pipes, looking for redemption.