ECHL Game Recap: Reading Royals vs. Adirondack Thunder| 02/04/2024

Photo Credit: Sarah Pietrowski/InsideTheRink

The Reading Royals faced the North Division leaders, the Adirondack Thunder, in an intense series with a new, yet not-so-new, face leading the pack. With James Henry being fired, Jason Binkley has been given the controls to lead the Royals into a better direction, and though this was only his first weekend doing so, there has already been some significant improvements, especially in the terms of goaltending.

Nolan Maier’s only goal against came from a penalty shot by Ryan Smith (Photo Credit: Sarah Pietrowski/Reading Royals)

Jason Binkley finished out his first weekend as the Royals’ interim head coach with points on his shoulders, his final game of the weekend banking in two points with an OT win against the Adirondack Thunder. Overtimes are not uncommon to the Royals this season, but something about this weekend seemed much different than the games earlier this season. The team pushed, connected their plays and all around seemed to have a much better head on their shoulders. The Sunday afternoon game alone was proof that there was something there that was truly clicking, especially in regards to the goaltending. Nolan Maier truly put on quite the show not only during Sunday afternoon’s game but over the course of both games this past weekend. In the two games he played, he faced a total of 83 shots with only two goals for the weekend. One of those goals came from this Sunday’s game with a successful penalty shot at 4:25 in the first period by Adirondacks’ forward Ryan Smith. Had the goal been unsuccessful, the game would’ve been a shutout.

With the focus off the penalty shot, the Royals would’ve chalked up a flawless game with their goal at 19:56 in the second period by Brayden Guy, assisted by Koletrane Wilson, being all they needed to have the game in the books. The tie just before the end of the second seemed to light the fire for the Royals as Adirondack just couldn’t make it click. The Royals had to take things to overtime, where Adam Brubacher had the game finalized just 18 seconds into the period with assists by Devon Paliani and Matt Brown. Though the period and game were over, it appeared Nico Blachman and Steven Leonard had a little more energy to entertain the crowd by continuing an altercation after the goal. But it wasn’t just Blachman that had the spotlight; former Royal Colin Felix made his return to Reading known with three penalties of his own throughout the game, the first at 12:17 in the first for interference, the second at 19:34 in the third for elbowing that gave the Royals their power-play goal in overtime, and the third at 18 seconds into the overtime period for unsportsmanlike conduct.

With Binkley’s first weekend series as interim head coach in the books, it’s important to look over the key elements that have seemed to create a better game, and it seems to be mostly surrounded by the goaltending. Now with Binkley’s more defensive mindset, is it creating less scoring chances for the opposing team including a much heavier wall in net? It’s quite possible he has become, at the very least, Maier’s good luck charm in this last series, but will Binkley’s luck send the Royals to playoffs for yet another season?

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