Before the Hershey Bears took the ice Saturday night against the Lehigh...
Wheeling Nailers Crash Reading Royals’ Scout Night
Peter Delmas proved a nearly impenetrable stone wall for the Wheeling Nailers tonight (All Photos Credit: M. Richter).
It was a sold out crowd in Reading, with “Scout Night” providing the encouragement the community needed to pack the Sovereign Center (7,162 tickets sold). Unfortunately, even that extra moral support couldn’t help the Royals when it came to their Atlantic Division rivals, the Wheeling Nailers (affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins). The loudest (and largest) crowd of the last 3 years saw a 3-1 loss in regulation, thanks in large part to Wheeling’s goaltender, Peter Delmas.
The Nailers scored just 4:26 into the first period (Cam Fergus, from Zuverinski & Lenes), and it was a controlled downhill slide from there. David Vallorani, who is currently fourth in the ECHL in rookie scoring, kept the Royals from being shut-out, scoring a late goal with help from Joel Champagne and Stanislav Galiev.
It should not be said that the Royals never had a chance. They had six power-play opportunities, in addition to outshooting the visiting Nailers 34-23, but a rocky first period had them chasing their tails for the rest of the evening. Riley Gill, who saw his second start for the Royals since signing with them recently, was in net for two of the goals against – the third was an empty-netter in the last minute of the game.
The Royals are still stable at the top of the Eastern Conference Standings, so a single loss isn’t the blow it would have been at this time last year, but it does reflect the team’s struggle to address the cost of frequent and numerous call-ups – many of whom simply have never returned from the AHL. They’ll have the chance to even the score against Wheeling on Wednesday, when the two teams again face off on Reading ice.