Wheeling Settles for Split With Reading
READING, Pa. – Five was the magic number this weekend, as the Wheeling Nailers and Reading Royals played a two-game set at Santander Arena. Sunday afternoon’s five went to the way of the Royals, who scored twice in the second and twice in the third, picking up a 5-3 victory.
Denver Manderson had a pair of points in the defeat for Wheeling, including his second shorthanded goal in as many games.
For the first time in five games, the Nailers opened the scoring, cashing in at the 11:53 mark of the first period. Sahir Gill battled his way through the left side of the offensive zone, before leaving the puck off for Jack MacLellan on the left side of the net. With Brandon Anderson looking the opposite way, MacLellan capitalized, banging in his 11th goal of the season.
A little more than four minutes later Reading evened the score, courtesy of a power play-goal. Michal Cajkovsky stepped up from the right point, giving Sean Wiles a passing target in the right circle. Cajkovsky pumped a one-timer into the right side of the cage.
Early in the second period the Royals took their first lead. Domenic Monardo rushed in on the left side of the offensive zone, before wristing a shot into the near side of the goal. Wheeling was able to answer quickly, tying the game 2:22 later.
Dustin Stevenson sent a long pass ahead to Manderson, who got a step on the defense, before roofing a shot into the top-right corner of the net. The tally was Wheeling’s ninth shorthanded goal of the season, which is tied for third in the ECHL.
With 6:20 to go in the period, Reading retook the lead. Wiles got a breakaway of his own, taking the puck to his forehand, before sliding a shot around Mike Condon’s left pad.
Reading added to its advantage at the 6:04 mark of the third. Ryan Cruthers sent a pass through neutral ice for Marvin Degon, who picked up speed into the offensive zone. Degon got a step on the defense, cutting to the goal, before lifting his shot into the top-left corner.
With 4:14 remaining, the Nailers pulled within one as Max MacKay set up Mike Ratchuk, who blasted in a shot from the left circle. The Royals had the final say in the end result, as Julien Cayer’s empty-net goal completed a victory.
Anderson received victory win for Reading, making 17 saves on 20 shots. Condon suffered the loss for Wheeling, turning aside 25 of the 29 shots he faced.
The Nailers begin a three-game homestand at 7 on Wednesday night against the Toledo Walleye.
Wheeling1 1 1 – 3
Reading1 2 2 – 5
1st Period-1, Wheeling, MacLellan 11 (Sylvester, Gill), 11:53. 2, Reading, Cajkovsky 8 (Wiles, Cruthers), 15:13 (PP). Penalties-Banwell Rea (high-sticking), 2:12; Stevenson Whl (high-sticking), 15:13; Cayer Rea (slashing ), 18:36.
2nd Period-3, Reading, Monardo 13 (Cajkovsky, Brittain), 2:15. 4, Wheeling, Manderson 4 (Stevenson), 4:37 (SH). 5, Reading, Wiles 12 (Cruthers, Syner), 13:40. Penalties-MacLellan Whl (hooking), 2:53; Stevenson Whl (tripping), 5:03; McGrath Whl (fighting – major), 7:29; Banwell Rea (fighting – major), 7:29.
3rd Period-6, Reading, Degon 4 (Cruthers), 6:04. 7, Wheeling, Ratchuk 8 (MacKay, Manderson), 15:46 (PP). 8, Reading, Cayer 5 (Cox, Blandina), 19:39 (EN). Penalties-Bakker Whl (tripping), 6:53; Cayer Rea (elbowing), 14:42; Sylvester Whl (boarding), 16:12.
Shots on Goal-Wheeling 7-4-9-20. Reading 14-8-8-30.
Power-Play Opportunities-Wheeling 1-3; Reading 1-5.
Goalies-Wheeling, Condon 14-11-0-4 (29 shots-25 saves). Reading, Anderson 13-7-1-0 (20 shots-17 saves).
Referee-Tyler Puddifant (28); Linesmen-Tom Dellafranco (68), Patrick Cunningham (58).