READING, PA – After recording their third shutout back on Sunday, the Reading Royals returned to action Wednesday night against the Worcester Railers. The game marked the ninth of fourteen regular season meetings between the two teams. In the previous eight meetings, the teams have been dead even at winning four games each. At the conclusion of the game, the Railers will not make another trip to Reading again until late February.
Before the game, the Royals made a couple of roster moves since their last game. Forward Mark Naclerio was suspended and is heading overseas. Ryan Penny is up with the Binghamton Devils on a tryout. Wednesday night’s game is the first game Penny has missed as a member of the Royals after signing with the club before the 2016-17 season. With two big pieces of the offense gone the Royals were given an offensive spark back as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms loaned Alex Krushelynski to Reading. The 2018 ECHL All-Star was up with the Phantoms since the end of November. The Royals also acquired forward Mark Bennett from the Tulsa Oilers in exchange for future considerations. Bennett reunites with Matt Wilkins as the two were college teammates at Union.
As for who gets the start in net Royals head coach Kirk MacDonald went back to John Muse. Since being sent back to Reading on December 28th, Muse has been nothing short of terrific. His excellent performance in net in two of the Royals games this past weekend helped Muse become the ECHL Goaltender of the Week. As for Railers, head coach Jamie Russell, he went with Eamon McAdam between the pipes.
The last time the Royals faced McAdam he got the win after stopping 34 shots in a 3-2 Railers victory. There wouldn’t be back-to-back shutouts for the Royals tonight as at the 12:49 mark of the opening frame the Railers scored first as Kellen Jones banked in a Chris Langkow rebound. Along with Langkow getting an assist, Barry Almeida picked one up on Jones’s eighth of the season. The Royals would respond with Nolan Zajac’s eighth goal of the season to tie the game at one. Matt Willows would pick up his team-leading 19th assist of the season on the goal.
The Railers would retake the lead as Barry Almeida would take a Frank Hora turnover down the ice for a breakaway goal. For Almeida, the goal was his ninth of the season. The Royals would score another late period goal Chris McCarthy lit the lamp for the dozenth time this season. Matt Wilkins picked up the only helper this go around. Midway through the final period, the Royals would take their first lead of the night as In his first game back Alex Krushelynski rocketed one past McAdam from the left circle to please the Reading faithful. Brian Morgan would pick up the lone assist on Krushelynski’s 11th of the season. With 6.1 seconds in the game after holding off Worcester for dear life in the games final two minutes Matt Willows would deliver the dagger on an empty net goal for his team-leading lucky 13th goal of the season to send everybody home happy. Michael Huntebrinker with the only assist only the final countdown.