READING, PA – Saturday night, the Reading Royals sustained their fifth straight loss in the hands of a 6-2 defeat to the Manchester Monarchs dropping the team’s record to 14-13-2 good for 30 points in the standings and fourth place in a very tough North Division.
But what is wrong with the team?
Many fans haven’t been this upset with this team since the days when Jason Nobili was the head coach of the Royals for the first three months of the 08-09 season. Losing players to the AHL and acquiring new players still trying to learn the system has made the Royals fall on hard times lately.
The Royals began the month of December with an overall record of 10-7-1 and a home record of 7-1. The Royals’ high-water mark inside Santander Arena was 9-1, but since Mark Dekanich’s 50-save shutout against the Wheeling Nailers on December 15, the team has lost their last four home games. Along with the five-game losing streak on their shoulders, the Royals have lost six of their last seven games with the only win being that already mentioned shutout win against the Nailers. While on this losing streak, the Royals have struggled to score goals, only lighting the lamp eight times compared to 22 times by the opponent.
Losing players to the AHL is nothing new to fans in the ECHL, but the Royals have lost some big names already to the Phantoms. Players like James de Haas who has played pretty well so far for the Royals before his call-up to AHL Lehigh Valley back on November 13. Forwards Alex Krushelynski and Steven Swavely, who were pointing up put points in bunches for Reading, and goalie John Muse.
When the Royals lost Muse to the Phantoms back on December 6, it meant that Mark Dekanich would have to be the lead man for Kirk MacDonald and “Dex Show” has been busy, appearing in all eight games for the team since Muse’s recall, facing a total of 297 shots (which averages out to around 37 a game.) Back on December 8th, the Royals signed Tyler Parks from the SPHL’s Peoria Rivermen but in his lone appearance so far for the Royals wasn’t pretty. He allowed three goals on 13 shots in the first period in a 6-2 loss to the Adirondack Thunder back on December 17th. With reports coming from the Flyers that Michal Neuvirth has been skating with the team in practice, that could mean we are close to seeing Alex Lyon back to the AHL and Muse coming back to the Royals.
With players up in the AHL that led to coach MacDonald to go find some help for his team, but the help he has sought hasn’t been very good.
His first move was to sign defensemen Brad Campagna from the SPHL. Since signing with the Royals, Campagna has only appeared in two games and hasn’t played since December 9th. Three days later, the Royals would trade forward Matt Salhany to the South Carolina Stingrays for defensemen Nick Neville. Since coming to Reading via trade, Neville has played in eight games with the club. One week after the trade, Sam Posa left the team and headed to France and forward Colin Martin was acquired from a trade with the Brampton Beast but his time in Reading didn’t last long as he suspended by the team right away.
Forwards Jack Ceglarski and Brian Morgan have played well while splitting time on the Royals fourth line since signing with the team and Morgan scored his first goal as a Royal last week. The final move of the flurry led to the acquisition of Jimmy DeVito from the Rapid City Rush for future considerations. MacDonald was on the coaching staff at RPI when DeVito was a freshman.
The team still has 43 games to go in the regular season so there is no need for fans to abandon ship or to hit the panic button yet. All teams go through rough patches throughout the season and it looks like the Royals are going through theirs right now.
If anything, this holiday break came at a good time for the Royals as they can relax for a couple of days and clear their minds before the team’s next game on Thursday night against the Worcester Railers. Despite their recent struggles, Reading is only four points behind second-place Wheeling in the North Division.