READING, Pa. — After giving up three goals in the final five minutes of last night’s game, the Reading Royals looked to rebound tonight as they once again hosted the Worcester Railers. Tonight was the 13th of 14 meetings of the season between the two teams.
Tonight was the organization’s fourth annual Autism Awareness Night – the Royals used no goal horn and softer music to help families and individuals affected by autism enjoy a night out.
Mark Deknaich got the start between the pipes for the Royals. As for the Railers, Mitch Gilliam was in net for the second straight night. Through the first 20 minutes of the game, both goalies played well, stopping everything in sight. At the 5:07 mark of the second period the Royals finally beat Gilliam as Brian Morgan‘s breakaway lit the lamp for his ninth goal of the season. The newest Royal, Jack Riley, picked up an assist for his first professional point. Near the end of the middle stanza, the Royals would double their lead as Gilliam turned the puck over right to Mark Bennett with a wide open net to shoot at for his fourth goal of the season and third as a Royal. Nick Luukko.
Less than six minutes into the third the Royals would put the game on ice as Michael Huntebrinker picked up his 19th of the season to triple his clubs lead. It was the first home goal for the Royals All-Star since he scored two on February 16th against the Cincinnati Cyclones.
With 1:15 to go in the contest, emotions started to show on the Railers bench as Worcester captain Mike Cornell went after Royals forward Matt Wilkins, taking him to the ground immediately. Cornell was ejected due to his actions and may face additional discipline from the league.
When the final horn sounded, the Reading Royals blanked the Worcester Railers tonight by the score of 3-0 in front of 5,797 fans, the highest number of fans for a Royals game this season.
Mark Dekanich picked up his third shutout of the season and first home win since December 15th thanks to his 28-save performance. In fact, three of Dekanichs’s last four wins have come via a shutout.
The win would improve the Royals record to 35-23-8 good for 78 points in the standings keeping Reading in third place in the North Division. Tonight was also the Royals 21st home win of the season which is one more than they had last season. The victory would also improve the Royals record on autism awareness night to 4-0.
The Royals will resume this four-game homestand Wednesday night as the first place Manchester Monarchs will be in town for the first of two meetings in three days. Puck drop is at 7:00 EST.