(PR) Reading, PA – The Royals tied a season high with their fifth consecutive win, denying the Devils their third straight win, in a 6-3 victory Wednesday at Sovereign Center. Three goals in the first nine minutes of the contest set the pace for Reading’s eighth win in 13 meetings with Trenton. Goalie Bobby Jarosz, debuting for Reading, made 32 saves on 35 Trenton shots to earn his first ECHL victory.
Shane Connelly started in net for the Devils and fell victim to his team’s sluggish start, allowing three goals on six shots in 8:55 of work. Jared Ross scored on a weak-side point shot and Dale Mitchell capitalized on a Devils turnover 12 seconds apart, and Reading had a 2-0 lead two minutes into the game. Mitchell, assigned to Reading along with Matt Caruana by AHL-Toronto earlier in the day, pushed the Royals lead to 3-0 seven minutes later, scoring on a two-on-one with Devin Timberlake.
With Jeff Lerg on to replace Connelly after the third Reading tally, the goaltending matchup turned into a duel of Spartans – Jarosz and Lerg were teammates at Michigan State from 2006 to 2009. Lerg would allow three goals on 27 shots and suffer his eighth loss of the season.
Trenton managed to stop the bleeding shortly after the goalie switch on a well-executed dump and chase, starting with Trevor Kell. Kory Nagy took the puck behind the net and fed Matt Vokes in the slot for his fifth goal of the season at 12:26 of the first, and Trenton trailed 3-1.
Penalties late in the first led to an extended power play for the Royals starting the second. Olivier Labelle and Matt Caruana scored on both portions of a high-sticking double-minor against Taylor Vichorek. Behind 5-1, the Devils didn’t answer until Kory Nagy scored on a two-on-one with Matt Vokes at 18:08 of the second, with assists to Dave Leaderer and Kell.
Early in the third period, moments after a Trenton five-on-three power play expired into a five-on-four, Trevor Kell picked up his third point of the night, scoring a one-timer created by Brad Miller’s pass with a secondary assist to Matt Vokes.
Trenton outshot the Royals 27 to 19 over the final two periods, but as the Devils’ scoring chances improved, a tripping penalty to Kory Nagy led to Reading’s third power play goal of the night. Matt Caruana, playing in his first ECHL game since December 28, cashed in with five minutes left in regulation for his second of the night and a 6-3 Royals lead.
Combined with a Toledo victory over Kalamazoo, the Devils loss drops them eight points out of the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot. Trenton hosts Gwinnett Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., entering the weekend five points behind the ninth-place Gladiators.