ELMIRA, N.Y. - The Elmira Jackals entered Wednesday's game with a 6-0-1 mark in their last seven games and got off to a fast start with the idea of extending it. But Reading came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Elmira 4-3 at First Arena and drop Elmira's record to 18-23-5 on the season.
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In their most recent game last Saturday Rob Bellamy and Ludwig Karlsson each produced mult-point efforts in a 5-3 win over Evansville. Each Jackal kept their momentum rolling on Wednesday and helped stake the Jackals to a 1-0 lead. Bellamy left a drop pass on the right wing for defenseman Patch Alber who hammered a slap shot on Reading goalie Riley Gill. Gill's pad save left a juicy rebound that Karlsson blasted home for his third goal in the last two games, and ninth overall. Elmira's lead grew to two thanks to Danny Hobbs picking up his 12th of the year in his first game back after two weeks with Binghamton in the American Hockey League. Hobbs was set up in the slot by Dane Walters and Daniel Koger for the goal just 53 seconds after Kalrsson's tally. Elmira outshot Reading 18-8 and thanks to eight saves by Scott Greenham led 2-0 after one.
The Royals turned the game on its ear in the second period by limiting Elmira to three shots and posting 11 of their own. They broke through on Greenham with a backdoor goal by Ryan Cruthers while working on a 5-on-3 power play. That marker came at 8:24 of the second and was followed up just under four minutes later by Josh Brittain hammering home a rebound to tie the score. Moments before Reading's power play began Alber appeared to have given Elmira a 3-0 lead but Reading's T.J. Syner blocked the puck on the goal line and bailed out Gill who was out of position.
The Jackals came out with a quick counterpunch in the third to break Reading's momentum. Jordan Pietrus, who had been held without a goal since January 17, blistered a slap shot high to the glove side past Gill to restore Elmira's lead 2:53 into the final frame. The lead was short-lived, however, because Brandon Blandina sneaked a wrist shot past Greenham 45 seconds later to knot the score at three. It remained that way for nearly ten minutes until Michal Cajkovsky took over with a fine individual effort. The Reading defender came barreling down the left wing and bet an Elmira defender wide before lifting a backhand shot past Greenham for his ninth of the year.
Elmira came within millimeters of tying the game in the final seconds when a Mike Vaskivuo shot from along the goal line clanged off the crossbar and away from the goal.
Greenham was 22-for-26 on save opportunities and shouldered his 12th loss of the season. Elmira finished the game 0-for-4 on the power play and 2-for-3 on the penalty kill.
Mark your calendars! The Jackals return to home ice on Friday, February 14 to take on the Evansville IceMen. Join the Jackals as they welcome special guest, and five-time National Hockey League All-Star, Peter Bondra. Bondra will drop the ceremonial faceoff and then sign autographs at the SplitRock Brew Pub during the first intermission. 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.