RAPID CITY, SD – The Reading Royals improved to 5-2-0-1, after defeating the Rapid City Rush in their first-ever meeting Friday night. With the loss, Rapid City (2-7-1-0) has been winless in eight of their first 10 games this season.
The first period went very quickly with only six stoppages of play during the entire period.
One of the stoppages came just over six and a half minutes into the period when Olivier Labelle was hacked while on a breakaway and was awarded the team’s first penalty shot of the season. Labelle beat Kent Patterson but clanked the right pipe and the puck went awry keeping it a scoreless tie at that point.
Minutes later, Florian Iberer fired a wrist shot from deep at the left point that was by Robbie Czarnik on the way in, causing the puck to slip between the legs of Patterson for his third of the season, which gave Reading a 1-0 lead. Reading continued the attack adding 11 shots on goal but had all momentum taken away late in the period, when Nick Walters fired in his first goal of the season, to level the game at 1 with 22.8 seconds left.
Although Rapid City took the momentum at the end of the period, the Royals quickly took it back. Michael Pelech took back the lead just 51 seconds into the middle frame to give the Royals a 2-1 lead. The offensive onslaught continued as Kevin Sundher scored his first of the season, giving Reading a 3-1 lead with 8:38 left in the period. Things started to take a turn as Nick Luukko headed to the box for cross-checking, their fourth penalty of the night. The Royals held strong, killing the penalty and giving Luukko the opening to score the fourth goal of the night for the Royals.
Penalties continue to be a problem for Reading. Steven Swavely headed to the box for the Royals’ fifth penalty of the evening and the Rush ended up capitalizing on this opportunity as Nathan Moon scored a power-play goal to make it a 4-2 lead. It appeared as the Royals would start the third period up by two, but the Rush had other plans. Hunter Fejes scored with 26.4 seconds left to make the score 4-3, marking another late period goal for the Rush and pulling the momentum back on their side.
The third period started much like the second period. Labelle scored 2:27 into the period for his fourth goal of the season and second point of the night; giving the Royals a 5-3 lead. Steven Swavely put the nail in the coffin, scoring an empty-netter to give the Royals a 6-3 lead with 1:10 left in the game.
The Royals face the Rush in game two of a three-game series tonight at 9:00 PM ET/7:00 PM MT.