Royals take over top spot in Atlantic

The defending Kelly Cup champion Reading Royals have moved back atop the Atlantic Division thanks to a four-game winning streak last week, and a 9-3-0 record over their last 12 games. Reading is 19-12-1 overall for 39 points, and has a three-point lead over Wheeling for the division lead.


Reading opened last week with a 6-2 win against Wheeling on Wednesday. Sean Wiles (3g-1a) and Yannick Tifu (4a) each posted four points in the win while Ryan Cruthers tallied three points (2g-1a) and Matt Campanale chipped in with a pair of assists. Wiles was a +5 in the game, tying the single-game high in the league this season.


The Royals opened a three-game weekend series against Elmira on Friday, skating away with a 4-1 road victory. Reading scored the first four goals of the game with Brandon Anderson turning aside 18 of 19 shots he faced to record the win in goal.


On Saturday, the Royals once again picked up a road win, defeating the Jackals 4-2. Tifu (2g-1a) and Cruthers (1g-2a) each posted three points with Wiles adding two assists.


Reading concluded the weekend with a 3-0 shutout at home on Sunday. Anderson recorded his second shutout of the season, stopping all 30 shots he faced while Wiles, Brandon Blandina and Brett Flemming posted goals for the Royals.


Tifu, who has posted 20 points (7g-13a) in his last 13 games, leads the Royals with 27 points (9g-18a) this season. Cruthers, who rejoined the team in early December, has 21 points (8g-13a) in 15 games with the Royals this season, and is two games shy of setting a new club record for most career games played. Wiles has also carried a hot hand for Reading this season. Despite missing nearly two months while loaned to Bridgeport of the American Hockey League, Wiles is tied with Cruthers for second on the team with 21 points (8g-13a) in just 17 games. He has posted 17 points (5g-12a) in the eight games since being returned to the Royals on Dec. 28.


In goal, Anderson has a personal four-game winning streak, and an overall record of 8-6-1 in 15 appearances this season, and he is tied for 14th in the ECHL with a 2.73 goals-against average. Riley Gill, who is currently recalled to Hershey of the American Hockey League, ranks seventh in the league with a 2.23 goals-against average.


The Royals are in action twice this week, hosting Toledo on Friday and Saturday, as they continue their four-game home stand.