(PR) Reading, PA – Momentum changed hands more than an old penny Saturday at Reading’s Sovereign Center. The Devils never had a lead in the wild affair, but mounted three separate comebacks, including three straight goals to tie the game 4-4 in the third while amassing 52 total shots. A frenetic final frame saw the Royals reclaim the lead and hold off Trenton for a 6-5 win to halt a four game losing streak.
Eight of the combined eleven goals came from specialty teams, as Trenton allowed a season high four power play goals, plus another on a delayed penalty. Reading set the pace early with two of those extra-man chances in the first six minutes of the contest. Ben McLeod scored on a net mouth scramble at 3:53, just ten seconds after Chris Murray took a tripping minor. Ryan Ginand was called for slashing 30 seconds later, leading to an Aaron Brocklehurst goal at 5:36 and a 2-0 Reading lead.
As the Devils settled down and killed off two more Reading power plays later in the first, Trenton managed a power play tally of its own on a bank shot from Jeff Prough. Without a goal since January 29, the Devils leading scorer got his 16th of the season by emerging from the left wing corner and shooting from behind the goal line off the side of starting goalie Andrew Engelage and into the net; Ryan Ginand and Tim Kunes assisted. Andrew Sarauer stole the momentum back for Reading with the Royals’ lone even-strength goal of the game on a home run pass from Robert Slaney with 30 seconds left in the first.
Trailing 3-1 in the second period, the Devils allowed another power play goal, this time with Bryan Ewing coming through for his 13th of the year, his fourth against Trenton. Ryan Cruthers and Brocklehurst got assists on Reading’s fourth goal at 14:56 of the second. Jack Combs answered for Trenton two minutes later as Matt Vokes fed Jack Combs from the left wing boards to the slot. Combs’ attempt at a one timer didn’t meet the puck squarely, but instead a waffling trajectory carried the puck over Engelage’s shoulder and the Devils trailed 4-2 at the end of two.
The ultra-explosive third began with Trenton scoring the game-tying goals in the first three minutes. While killing off the last minute of a carryover penalty, Jeremy Akeson had a shorthanded breakaway and was denied by Engelage on the short side. Akeson regathered the puck off the right post and, with Engelage apparently injured on the play, jammed home the score on Trenton’s first of 22 third-period shots at :51 with Ginand and Murray assisting. With Matt Dalton replacing Engelage, Jack Combs set up Slavomir Tomko for the tying goal on the power play two minutes later, feeding from the left wing corner to the slot for a one-timer, with Zancanaro getting the secondary assist.
Thirteen penalties in the third period, including eight against Trenton, helped the Royals rebuild their lead. Ryan Cruthers would score twice, first on a power play at 8:24 and then at 9:55 on a delayed penalty, reasserting a two goal edge, 6-4. The list of infractions grew to include Rick Kowalsky, who was given a game misconduct of abuse of officials amidst a series of protests from the Devils bench. Back and forth play continued with quality chances for both sides throughout the period.
Jeff Prough scored his second of the game and 17th of the year to get the Devils within striking distance at 14:47. The even strength goal, with assists from Justin Pender and Akeson allowed the Devils to pull goalie Gerald Coleaman and mount a six-on-five attack in the final two minutes. The furious shooting attack from the Devils could not crack Dalton and the Royals held on for the 6-5 victory.
The Devils (18-23-4-5, 45pts) now trail the Royals by seven points for second place, as Reading (24-21-1-3, 52pts) keeps pace with first-place Elmira who was victorious Saturday night in Wheeling. The Jackals defend their division lead against Trenton Sunday at 4:05 p.m.