If this was indeed Philipp Grubauer’s last appearance in a Reading Royals’ uniform, he went out with a bang. Grubauer made 27 saves, including a full-split jaw dropper early in the 3rd period to lead the Royals past Wheeling 3-1 at Sovereign Center.
Reading struck first on a goal by Adam Comrie at 7:16.
The play started when David Vallorani chipped a puck to Nikita Kashirsky. Kashirsky, barreling down the near side boards and threw the puck into the slot, where it was chipped home by Comrie. It was his 11th of the season. Reading controlled play for much of the opening frame, holding a 13-6 advantage in the shot department.
The Second period began and was much of the same. About 5 minutes in, the momentum started to swing. Grubauer was stellar, including one sequence where he stopped 3 shots on a power play with guys up in his face. Wheeling controlled puck possession but couldn’t crack the Reading goalie. The Nailers led that period on the shot chart 11-4, even though the period went scoreless.
The third period carried on the way the second ended: With Wheeling dominating in the offensive end of the ice. About two minutes in, Chris Barton passed to a wide open Luke Pither, Pither rifled a one timer in which the Royals goaltender went into the full splits, sliding to his left. He snapped his glove up and got the puck. It was a save that had many of us on press row in utter disbelief. It was a save that defenseman Cody Wild would call later, “A game changer” Reading though, would make it 2-0 when Barry Almeida forced a turnover and flipped the puck to David Marshall, who fired a wicked wrister from the near faceoff dot over the glove hand of Nailers’ goaltender Peter Delmas.
Wheeling would finally strike with 1:44 remaining when a wrister from the slot by Wheeling’s Scott Zurevinski bounced of a player in front, then off Grubauer, and in.
Wheeling had an offensive zone draw with about 90 seconds remaining, but withDelmas pulled, the Draw was lost. Reading’s Patrick Wellar got the puck and passed to Kirk MacDonald, who shot from the Royals’ bench into the empty net. It was his 11th of the year.
Special thanks to DJ Abisalih for the shout out on the broadcast tonight, meant a lot. Not only to me, but all of us on the staff here
Slap Shots: Spoke to former WBS D Cody Wild after the game. He expects to stay in Wheeling unless an AHL team comes calling. Meanwhile, Carl Sneep expects to be up in a day or two. 3 Stars were: 3. David Marshall (Rea) 2. Adam Comrie (Rea) 1. Philipp Grubauer (Rea). Wheeling and Reading meet again Friday and Saturday Night at WesBanco Arena in Reading.