READING, Pa. - The Elmira Jackals couldn't keep pace with the Eastern Conference-leading Reading Royals on Friday night at Santander Arena and fell by a 4-1 count. The loss dipped Elmira's record to 22-34-8 on the season.
Click here for tonight's box score.
Elmira gave a good push out of the gate and registered three of the first five shots on goal but was unable to punch home the first goal of the night. After the Royals absorbed the Jackals' initial surge their leading scorer gave them the opening goal. Ryan Cruthers snapped home a one-timer from the right-wing circle thanks to a sharp feed from Sean Wiles. Jesse Todd earned his first of two assists in the period by setting up Wiles in the left-wing circle. Riley Boychuk nearly tied the game for Elmira midway through the first but his deke attempt on a breakaway was thwarted by goalie Riley Gill's diving pokecheck. Kevin Walrod doubled Reading's lead at 17:03 of the first when he one-timed Ethan Cox' feed past Neil Conway. The Jackals' netminder made his 10th start in Elmira's last 11 games and turned in 10 saves in the opening frame.
Just as they did in the first period, the Jackals started the second with a burst of energy and applied a lot of pressure in the Reading end. Five of the first eight shots of the frame belonged to Elmira but Gill turned each one away and kept the Jackals from closing the gap. The Jackals' chances to go on the offensive were hampered by Reading earning three power play opportunities in the stanza. The Jackals killed off each of the first two and limited the Royals to just three man-advantage shots. Things took a Reading turn, however, on the final power play of the period. Aaron Gens got a good look at the net from the point and sent a shot that was deflected by Wiles past Conway with just over 40 seconds left in the period. The goal was Wiles' 19thof the season and gave him his second point of the contest. A late period dust-up left Elmira with a power play to start the third period.
Elmira was unable to convert on its power play to open the final frame so it was Reading's power play that took advantage and stretched the score to 4-0. A stretch pass by Marvin Degon, sent from behind the Reading goal line, sent Cruthers in on a breakaway and he beat Conway with a backhand shot to the blocker side for his second of the night. The Jackals kept Gill from posting the shutout thanks to Patch Alber threading the needle to Harry Young for a tip-in goal at 12:35 of the third. The goal was Young's third of the year and Alber picked up his 15th point with the assist.
Conway shouldered his eighth loss of the season in turning away 35 of Reading's 39 shots. Elmira ended the night 0-for-3 on the power play and 2-for-4 on the penalty kill.
Mark your calendars! The Jackals return to home ice on Saturday, March 29 to take on the Reading Royals. Join us for the inaugural Pink In the Rink presented by Wine and Design. Order tickets using the "PINK" promo code to have $2 from each ticket donated to Susan G. Komen Twin Tiers Region. Don't forget that groups of 10 or more who book in advance receive discounts off the box office price and preferred seating based on availability. Call 607-734-7825 to get your group outing booked.