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Reading Royals lose to Adirondack in series finale

A third-period defensive collapse proved costly for the Reading Royals on Sunday.

The Royals allowed Adirondack to score three goals in the final period, the last of which was into an empty net, lifting the Thunder to a 5-2 win in an ECHL game at Santander Arena.

“We weren’t mentally dialed in,” Reading coach Kirk MacDonald said. “The longer the game went, the more mentally disengaged we got.”

In a game that was 2-2 after two periods, Adirondack scored the decisive goal 29 seconds into the third period, as forward Shane Harper found the back of the net. The goal was Harper’s second of the game.

The Thunder extended its lead to 4-2 midway through the period with a goal from forward Matt Baker. Forward Patrick Grasso made it 5-2 with the empty-net goal in the game’s final minutes.

“The frustrating part is we got out-competed,” MacDonald said. “They were a mentally tougher team than us tonight, and they’re in last place.”

The win gives the Thunder, which is at the bottom of the ECHL’s North Division, the 2-1 victory in the three-game series. Despite the pair of losses, the Royals remain atop the division with a 0.679 points percentage and 76 points.

“They just capitalized on their chances,” Reading forward Thomas Ebbing said of Adirondack. “The chances that they had on some of our little letdowns and turnovers ended up in the back of the net.”

Ebbing opened the scoring late in the first period with a goal from close range. The scoring opportunity was set up by an accurate pass from defenseman Garrett Cecere, who was credited with the primary assist.

The goal marked Ebbing’s 100th career ECHL point, 66 of which have come with the Royals. Ebbing has a career-high 39 points in 56 games with Reading this season.

“It’s nice,” said Ebbing, who is in his fourth ECHL season. “It took me a little while to get there, but I’m feeling good right now and hopefully the goals and points keep coming.”

The Thunder responded less than three minutes later when Harper tied it with 23 seconds remaining in the first period. The goal was one of just three shots that Adirondack generated in the first period.

The Thunder relied on its aggressive play to take a 2-1 lead early in the second period. While on the penalty kill, Adirondack forced a Reading turnover deep in the Royals’ zone and capitalized with a short-handed goal from forward Nick Rivera.

“At times, we were just being a little too cute with the puck,” Ebbing said. “Credit to them, they made some good plays.”

Reading made it 2-2 a few minutes later with a goal from forward Jacob Pritchard. Defenseman Mason Millman and forward Kenny Hausinger had the assists.

Reading outshot Adirondack 32-21. Despite being outscored 3-0, the Royals outshot the Thunder 10-8 in the third period.

“We got to be more opportunistic,” MacDonald said. “We didn’t really work very hard.”

Reading put their goaltender Hayden Hawkey in several disadvantageous situations, especially in the final two periods. Overall, Hawkey made 16 saves.

“He played another good game,” Ebbing said. “It’s on us as teammates to help back him up.”

Source: Berkshire mont

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