READING, PA– After splitting their weekend set against the Brampton Beast, the Reading Royals returned to action Wednesday night, hosting the Central Division-leading Toledo Walleye in the second and final meeting of the regular season between the two teams this season. The Royals took the first meeting back on October 26th in overtime by the score of 4-3 with Alex Krushelynski scoring the game-winning goal. Wednesday night’s affair was also the first time since November 29 the Royals didn’t play an opponent from the North Division.
Kirk MacDonald went back to John Muse to start the game for the Royals. In his last outing on Saturday, Muse got the win in the shootout after stopping a career-high 47 shots. As for Walleye head coach, Dan Watson went with his all-star goalie Pat Nagle between the pipes. Nagle was in net for the Walleye the last time these two teams played and made 32 saves on 36 Reading shots.
Late in the first period with 1:37 to go the Royals would find the scoreboard first off a bullet from James de Haas from the blue line. Michael Huntebrinker and Matt Wilkins with the assists on James’s third lamplighter of the season.
The Royals would double their lead less than seven minutes into the second period as Nick Luukko fired one past Nagle for his fourth goal of the season. de Haas and Matt Willows with the assists this time. The Royals would add on to their lead as Matt Wilkins would net one in on the power play for his sixth of the season. Matt Willows and Adam Schmidt with the assists. A little over two minutes later the Walleye would find the scoreboard on Davis Vandane’s fifth of the season. Austin Brassard and Ryan Obuchowski with the assists.
In the final minute of the game, the Walleye would cut their deficit in half as Austin Brassard with his fifth of the season. Connor Crisp and Simon Denis with the helpers. But the pesky Walleye weren’t done as with 10.2 to go in the game, Mike Borkowski would slip one five-hole on Muse to tie the game at 3. Brassard would pick up his third point of the contest and Erik Bradford would tally the other assist on Borkowski’s lucky 13th goal of the season.
With the game tied at 3, the teams would go to overtime. In the extra frame where it looked the Walleye had all the momentum both teams would fail to score which meant for the second time in their past three games the Royals would be playing in a shootout. It would be the first shootout for the Walleye since December 1 when they lost to the Fort Wayne Komets by the score of 3-2.
In the shootout, Michael Huntebrinker would score the only goal on a nifty shot similar to the one he had back on Saturday night. John Muse was lights out in the skills challenge as the moose stopped all three Walleye shooters faced. This season in the shootout, Muse is a perfect five for five. In Muse’s last 10 games, the Royals record is 9-1.
When the final horn sounded the Reading Royals would take down the Toledo Walleye by the score of 4-3 in front of 2,699 fans improving their record to 23-18-2 for 48 points in the standings keeping them in fourth place in the tough North Division. This game was almost a complete 180 from the last time these two times squared off as the Walleye came-back from a two-goal deficit to force overtime. In the last meeting, the Royals scored two goals late to force overtime.