READING, Pa. - Defense was the name of the game Friday night as the Wheeling Nailers played their first road game of the preseason in Reading against the Royals. Unfortunately for them, it was a Reading defenseman who had the final say, as Ryan Kavanagh broke a 1-1 tie with 6:32 remaining, lifting the home team to a 2-1 victory at Sovereign Center.
After a scoreless first period, the Nailers broke through with the opening goal at the 6:04 mark of the second. Sahir Gill chipped the puck through center ice, leading Colin Mulvey to a victorious puck race on the right side of the offensive zone. Mulvey sent the puck toward the net, where it was kicked out to Gill, who lifted a backhander in for his first goal of the preseason. Thirty seconds later, Reading tied the score. Marc Zanette had his initial shot denied by Mike Condon, but the rebound kicked out to Ryan Santana, who slipped his shot through for the equalizer.
The score remained tied until the 13:28 mark of the third period, when the Royals took the lead. Ryan Kavanagh took the puck on the inner edge of the right circle, and proceeded to lift a shot over Alex Westlund's glove. Marc Zanette and Bryant Molle assisted on the goal, which turned out to be the difference in the game. Wheeling was whistled for two penalties in the final minutes, preventing an opportunity to tie the game. However, the Nailers' penalty kill was perfect, denying all eight Reading chances.
Riley Gill earned the victory for the Royals, making 17 saves on 18 shots. Westlund was saddled with the loss, despite turning away 13 of the 14 shots he faced. Condon made 17 saves on 18 shots as Wheeling's starting goaltender.
The Nailers will visit the Fort Wayne Komets at 7:30 Saturday night in a game that will be heard on the internet only, by utilizing the following link - mms://126.96.36.199/wheeling. Wheeling will then open the regular season at 7 p.m., Oct. 18 against the Elmira Jackals at WesBanco Arena.
Royals 2, Nailers 1
Wheeling 0 1 0 - 1
Reading 0 1 1 - 2
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Gill Whl (tripping), 9:53.
2nd Period-1, Wheeling, Gill 1 (Mulvey, Velischek), 6:04. 2, Reading, Santana 1 (Toews, Zanette), 6:34. Penalties-Grassi Whl (slashing ), 2:10; Sylvester Whl (cross-checking), 3:18; Linsmayer Rea (interference), 6:58; Torquato Whl (slashing ), 13:06.
3rd Period-3, Reading, Kavanagh 1 (Zanette, Molle), 13:28. Penalties-Velischek Whl (tripping), 2:18; Cayer Rea (tripping), 11:20; Manderson Whl (delay of game), 14:13; served by MacKay Whl (bench - too many men), 17:51; Minella Whl (high-sticking), 19:27.
Shots on Goal-Wheeling 9-3-6-18. Reading 5-17-10-32.
Power Play Opportunities-Wheeling 0 / 2; Reading 0 / 8.
Goalies-Wheeling, Condon 0-0-0-0 (18 shots-17 saves); Westlund 0-2-0-0 (14 shots-13 saves). Reading, Gill 1-0-0-0 (18 shots-17 saves).
Referees-Brett Sheva (15).
Linesmen-Tom Dellafranco (68), Brad Zanoni (41).