ECHL: Reading Royals: What is the Takeaway from Reading Royals’ Last Series of 2023?

(Photo Credit: Sarah Pietrowski/Reading Royals)

The Reading Royals spent their last series of 2023 against the Worcester Railers. There were familiar faces that returned to Reading but also some very familiar issues have laid waste to more devastating losses keeping the team at the bottom of the division going into the new year.

Nolan Maier made two appearances in the final series of 2023 against the Worcester Railers (Photo Credit: Sarah Pietrowski/Reading Royals)

With the new year at hand, it’s important to not only look ahead at the future but first consider what’s happened in the past as well. The Royals spent their last weekend series of 2023 against the Worcester Railers in an exhilarating battle to claw their way out of last place. Unfortunately for them, the weekend surely didn’t go as planned with Worcester leaving Reading with five out of six attainable points. So what should be considered moving forward?

Looking at these three games, there is quite a lot to be considered. The first game of the series was a shutout by former Royals’ goaltender John Muse who made a total of 28 saves which was his first game with Worcester. Worcester dominated in goals for the first game but truly the teams were matched as Worcester had a total of 27 shots on goal while Reading had 28. However, though the shots were matched, the railers were simply able to get it past Maier. The first goal came at 8:35 in the first period by Ryan Verrier with assists by Ashton Calder and Zach White. The first-period action didn’t stop there for Worcester as they went on to score again at 11:35 by Riley Piercey with Blade Jenkins and Connor Welsh on the assists. Going out of the period with zero goals when they were given a power play chance that period is the start of what this game showcased for the Royals going into 2024. The other greater part of the showcase came as Worcester put up a power play goal by Connor Welsh with assists by Anthony Repaci and Blade Jenkins as the result of Koletrane Wilson’s Kneeing penalty.

The Royals, however, did leave the weekend with a win in their second game of the series but it only came as the result of Matt Brown’s overtime game-winner assisted by Tag Bertuzzi at 3:18 in the overtime period. The Royals did have a lead in the third period but it was tied back up by yet another power-play goal by Worcester at 14:10 by Blade Jenkins who was assisted by Anthony Repaci and Anthony Callin. It was another slip-up due to Trevor Thurston’s Elbowing penalty. But though they lost control during the penalty kill, they still did win in yet another game that was forced into overtime.

Now as for their last game of the series, the penalties issue became quite apparent, and perhaps pure exhaustion as well. Looking at the shots on goal of the game, it would seem as though Reading was in full control with a total of 33 shots while Worcester only had 16, but the game was far different than the numbers may seem. The Royals looked tired out there, plays were sloppy and it was quite apparent that the third game of the series was catching up to them fast. Worcester had just three shots on goal in the first period, and on that third shot, they scored their first power-play goal. Joey Cipollone was the scorer with Quinn Ryan and Ashton Calder on the assists at 11:53 with the goal coming as a result of Ryan Chyzowski’s Hooking penalty. The Royals did tie it up though but not until the third period with Matt Brown scoring with Shane Sellar on the assist. It looked as though it was going to be yet another game that would end in overtime but Devon Paliani’s Tripping penalty gave Worcester the lead. Ashton Calder took advantage of the power play at 10:23 with Connor and Welsh on the assists giving the Railers the win for the second time of the weekend.

Collectively, the series all in all on paper looked as though there was a chance to take all six points but that’s when the issues that made the weekend so dragging floated right to the surface. The issues were not just this weekend alone but this series reestablished their importance moving forward into the new year. The bottom line here is penalties are equating to goals. There was at least one power-play goal by Worcester each game during this series all from rather unneeded penalties. On the flip side, when looking at the power play for the Royals, there is just way too much passing going on. The passing not only starts to become excessive but they tend to get sloppy leading to turnovers or puck clears that take away at least thirty seconds of the power play. The season is reaching its halfway point and these sorts of issues are crucial in looking ahead. What is concerning, however, is these issues aren’t just from this season either they were quite apparent in last season’s play as well. The bottom line here is this, stop taking penalties and cut down the passing on the power play.

Important Note:

As of Monday, January 1st, the Reading Royals have traded Forward Brendan Hoffmann to the Atlanta Gladiators in exchange for Defenseman Blake Evennou.

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