READING, PA– After a shutout victory Friday night, the Reading Royals returned to action Saturday once again against the Wheeling Nailers. Tonight marked the fifth trip up to Reading this season for the Nailers with the sixth and final matchup not happening until February 18th.
Between the pipes, Royals head coach Kirk MacDonald went with Mark Dekanich for the fifth straight game. In his previous three starts, Dekanich has faced a total of 144 shots (including 50 Friday night) which averages out to 48 per game so the defense needs to help him out especially with John Muse still up in Lehigh Valley. As for Nailers head coach Jeff Christian, he went with Will King in net. Two weeks ago, King faced the Royals down inside the WesBanco Arena and got the win in overtime after stopping 39 Royals shots out of 43.
After the first twenty minutes of the game, there was no score. However, at the 11:35 mark of the opening frame, the Nailers thought they found the back of the net first but it was waved off since the puck went in via a high stick. The game would remain scoreless until the final minute of the second when the Nailers would find the scoreboard thanks to Kevin Schulze on the power play. Jarrett Burton and Cam Brown with the helpers on Schulze’s second tally of the season.
Less than a minute into the third, the Nailers would double their lead thanks to Reid Gardiner. Nick Sorkin and Dan Milan had the helpers on Reid’s 12th of the season. The Nailers weren’t done as with 12:06 to go in the game, Troy Joseph found the back of the net for his third of the season to give Wheeling a three-goal cushion, Garrett Meurs with the lone assist. The Royals would finally get onto the board midway through the final frame as Adam Schmidt made it rain stuffed animals inside the Santander Arena on his fourth lamplighter of the season. His linemates Ryan Penny and Mark Naclerio picked up the assists. The Royals wouldn’t go down without a fight as Brian Morgan tallied his first as a Royal to cut the deficient in half, with Chase Golightly assisting. With 27 seconds to go in the game, the Royal killer, Cody Wydo tallied the empty netter making it 4-2 Nailers which sent most fans to the exits. Dylan Zink had the lone helper.
When the final horn sounded, the Nailers defeated the Royals tonight by the score of 4-2 moving the Royals record to 14-9-2-0. Saturday was only the Royals second home loss of the season, both of them at the hands of Wheeling. The Royals will be back in action Sunday afternoon as they host the Adirondack Thunder. Puck drop is at 4:00 EST.