By Don Stewart
READING, Pa. – For Saturday night’s “St. Hat Trick’s Day Game,” the Reading Royals promised to award a fan $10,000 if a Royal scored three goals.
The players knew about the promotion. Problem was, someone must have told them they would get the 10 grand.
The Royals unleashed their biggest offensive surge of the season, falling one goal shy of a team record in a 9-3 blowout of the struggling Wheeling Nailers Saturday night at the Sovereign Center.
Reading led 6-0 after two periods, but there still was drama as three players were in the hunt for a hat trick. The team had selected 16 fans, each of whom drew a player. If their player scored three goals, that fan would win $10,000.
Ned Lukacevic won the race to the hat trick with his wrister from the right circle 5:24 into the third. The prize went to season-ticket holder Julie Deam of West Reading.
“Who would have thought that three skaters would be in contention?” said Deam, who receives workman’s comp and is on a fixed income. “We haven’t had a hat trick at home all year. I was so light-headed I thought I was going to fall over.
“I never win anything. This is so exciting.”
With Lukacevic, Shawn Collymore and Brock Hooton each at two goals, it was apparent that there was a sense of urgency to wrap up the hat trick first. Though his third goal put the Royals ahead 8-1, Lukacevic was ecstatic after scoring for the third time.
“Honestly, the first thing I thought of was the person that won $10,000,” Lukacevic said. “Ten thousand dollars is a lot of money to anyone. Maybe they have kids, maybe they need to pay bills. That’s just great for them. I’m happy I could help someone win some money.”