Last season, the Reading Royals reached the top of the mountain in the ECHL, as they were crowned as Kelly Cup Champions. On Friday night, the visitors put on a championship-esque performance, as they visited the Wheeling Nailers at WesBanco Arena. Reading struck for three goals in the second period, opening up a 4-0 lead, en route to a 6-2 victory.
After two successful penalty kills, the Royals broke the scoreless deadlock with 3:34 remaining in the opening period. Dustin Gazley, who had finished serving a minor penalty 17 seconds earlier, skated down the right side of the ice, before snapping a pass to TJ Syner on the left side of the slot. Syner quickly lifted the puck into the left side of the cage, putting the visitors ahead 1-0 after one period of play.
Early in the second period, Reading widened their margin, scoring three times in a span of 3:27. Louie Caporusso netted the first marker, when he buried his own rebound, which came off of a centering feed from Syner in the right corner. 2:35 later, the Royals ended Wheeling’s string of 14 successful penalty kills in a row, when Ryan Kavanagh wristed home a shot from the right point. 52 seconds after that, Domenic Monardo added his name to the scoresheet with a tally from the right circle. Jack MacLellan got Wheeling on the board with 6:14 left in the period, as he pounced on a loose puck in front of the net. Sahir Gill picked up his first professional point on the goal, as he recorded the lone assist.
The Nailers cut their deficit in half at the 3:13 mark of the third period. With Cody Sylvester creating havoc in front of the net, Carter Rowney flipped a backhander into the net, drawing assists from Denver Manderson and Barry Goers, making the score 4-2. Dustin Gazley deflected a pass off of Sean Wiles’ leg and in for Reading’s fifth goal of the evening, before Stanislav Galiev’s empty netter accounted for the 6-2 final.
Brandon Anderson picked up his first win of the year, making 22 saves on 24 shots for the Royals. Eric Hartzell took the loss for Wheeling in his professional debut, surrendering five goals on 30 shots.
The Nailers will be on home ice again on Saturday, when they battle the Greenville Road Warriors at 7:00.