The Reading Royals lost to the South Carolina Stingrays 3-2 at Santander Arena in Reading on Sunday.
Reading got an early goal from Stanislav Galiev and another from David Marshall with just 3.2 seconds left; but, in between, the Stingrays sandwiched an even strength goal between a power play goal and a third period short-handed game winner from former-Royal Chris Langkow to pull out the road victory. As with Saturday night, the Royals outshot (and seemed to out-chance) the Stingrays, but goaltender Jeff Jakaitis (1-0-1-0, 27/29) was once again a formidable force.
The Royals struck 3:07 in when defenseman Michal Cajkovsky fired from the high slot. Jakaitis made the save, but the rebound fell to the top of the crease, where Galiev snuck in for the stuff in and his first goal of the year.
South Carolina answered 2:30 later on their first power play of the night. The Stingrays won the offensive zone face-off, moved the puck high-to-low and then high again into the mid-slot where a waiting Scott Campbell settled and ripped a high bullet by Brandon Anderson (0-1-0-0, 19/22 in 58:07) for his first of the year.
The Stingrays bagged their second goal in their first three shots 8:02 into the game after the Royals coughed one up in the defensive zone on the left wing wall, where a waiting Justin Maylan picked-off the puck and slipped it to a wide open Marc Hagel, who was planted in the middle of the ice six feet off the top of the crease. Hagel took a wild back-hand swipe causing the puck to flutter over the right arm of Anderson and into the net.
After a scoreless second, during which Reading clanged a pipe and were unable to finish on a couple of other prime chances, South Carolina got what proved to be the short-handed game winner 9:42 into the third. Four members of Reading’s power play unit got caught above the puck deep in the offensive zone, and the Stingray killers broke on a two-on-one into the Royals’ end. Ryan Grimshaw carried down the left wing side, drew the lone Reading defender towards him, and fed cross-ice to a charging Langkow, who deked Anderson and stuffed it home for his first of the year.
The Royals pressed, but by the time the team finally solved Jakaitis, time had run far too short. With just 3.2 seconds left and six attackers on the ice, Marshall corralled at the top of the crease, and slipped a between-the-legs-backhand across the goal line for his first of the year. Despite winning the face-off to re-start play, the Royals last gasp effort to tie died at the offensive blue-line, sending Reading to the team’s first loss of the year.
The Royals are off until Friday when the team will face the Elmira Jackals at First Arena in Elmira, New York.