If they are going to continue that streak, however, it will be with a very different team. The Royals made a host of transactions in the past week, losing their starting goalie, team captain, and leading scorer, but gaining some talented prospects.
Two of the Royals three victories came in overtime. Nov. 30's showdown against the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies came down to a shootout, Reading's fourth of the season. Tommi Degerman notched the Royals a 3-2 win with his second shootout goal of the season. Chris Aldous scored a power play goal in the second period, and Lorne Toews picked up a goal in a the third. Sean Gauthier stopped 25 of 27 shots.
Reading's Bryan Forslund recorded a goal and an assist as the Royals edged the Wheeling Nailers, 2-1, on Dec. 1. Forslund set up Chris Alduos' third power play goal 6:35 into the second period. The 27-year-old center, who has enjoyed four consecutive 20-plus goal seasons, capped the scoring at 13:15 into the middle stanza. James Desmarais, the Royals' leading scorer, added two assists. Goalie Sean Gauthier stopped 22 of 23 shots.
The Royals rallied from two goals down in the third to pick up a 3-2 overtime win against the Peoria Rivermen Dec. 4. Lorne Toews scored the game winner, and Brendan Brooks collected a pair of goals in the third period. Gauthier stopped 23 of 25 shots for the win.
The Royals picked up a power play goal in each of the three games, going 3 for 13 over the series.
Gauthier has been the cornerstone of the Royals' recent success. He has started the last eight games, during which the Royals are 6-1-1. The Royals will have to rely on two new acquisitions to tend goal, however, as Gauthier is parting with the team to play overseas. Gauthier had appeared in all but three games for Reading this season. He recorded all of Reading's 10 victories.
"When Sean came into my office and told me he was leaving I was surprised, but wasn't in shock," Sims said. "This is the nature of the business and Sean got a good opportunity in Sweden that he has chosen to pursue."
The Royals picked up two goalies in two days to replace Gauthier. Alfie Michaud, who is currently under contract with the Vancouver Canucks, has been reassigned to Reading from Vancouver via Manitoba. Michaud had appeared in eleven games with Manitoba this season and picked up six wins and three defeats.
General Manager Ray Delia said the pickup was a pleasant surprise.
"This just came out of nowhere," he said. "When you have an opportunity to pick up another NHL quality goaltender you have to jump at the chance."
The Royals also signed free agent goaltender, Jeff Salajko. Salajako had spent time in Arkansas and Manitoba this season. He is a five-year veteran goaltender who has played in the American Hockey and East Coast Hockey League during his professional tenure. Salajko was also invited to Edmonton Oilers training camp this year.
"Jeff was looking for a new fresh start," said Royals Head Coach Al Sims.ˆ "With our situation with Sean, it came at a perfect time."
The Royals also lost their leading scorer when they traded James Desmarais to the Dayton Bombers for the rights to right wing, Brendan Brooks, on Dec. 3. Brooks started the season with the Royals AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs, before being placed in Quad City of the United Hockey League. In Quad City, the speedy forward was scoring at a point-a-game clip. In nine games with the Quad City Mallards, Brooks scored in six goals and tallied nine points.
"This was a speed for skill trade," said Coach Al Sims. "James definitely had the skill, but we felt we will improve our club adding the speed of Brooks. His speed should translate into more scoring for us."
Desmarais had been picked up by the Royals just over a month ago. In 16 appearances, he scored seven goals for a team high total of 15 points. He also was tied for the team lead with two game-winning goals. The Royals acquired Desmarais from Arkansas for cash considerations on October 26.
Royals General Manager Ray Delia said the deal had been negotiated for quite some time.
"We saw Brendan play in training camp in Manchester and we were excited to get him here," he said. "His presence will improve our hockey club."
Captain Andy MacIntyre was also a victim of the trading block. The veteran defenseman was sent to Arkansas for future considerations.
One more vital cog to the Royals success also left the team when rookie power forward Ryan Flinn was recalled to Manchester. "Big" Flinn leads the team in penalty minutes with 130 so far this season.ˆ He also ranks among the ECHL league leaders in major penalties (tied 1st -14) and penalty minutes (3rd-130).ˆ ˆ
"This is great for Ryan. This is his dream. It's unfortunate for us to lose him, but for his sake I hope he makes the most of it," said Sims. "You have to take advantages of these opportunities when you get the chance."
* Fans are encouraged to bring new, stuffed teddy bears/toys to toss on the ice after the Royals first goal at the Saturday, December 15, 7:05 p.m. Reading Royals vs. Trenton Titans game. The toys will be collected and donated to Toys For Tots on behalf of the Royals and their fans.
The Marine Corp will also be at the game to collect new, unwrapped and non-stuffed toys at the barrels on the concourse of the Sovereign Center. These donations will also be given to Toys for Tots.
The Toys for Tots campaign is an annual toy collection and distribution event. Local campaigns are conducted in over 350 communities covering all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Local Toys for Tots campaigns as part of the overall U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program.ˆ