As the threat of severe weather loomed over New Jersey’s capital on Friday night, the Reading Royals and Trenton Titans resumed their rivalry in a taut, yet low-scoring contest which featured another thrilling finish beyond regulation.
Ultimately, it was Mike Ullrich’s second goal of the night, coming at the 1:40 mark of overtime, which gave the hosts a 3-2 victory over their bitter division rivals.
Ullrich, who in the third period extended his point streak to nine games with a tally, accepted a Chad Langlais pass, flew up the left-wing side then deked a Reading defenseman. He pulled the puck to the backhand to draw Drew MacIntyre across his crease, then reversed direction at the last minute to put the winner into a half-open net with 1:40 played.
It put the capper on an impressive performance by Cal Heeter, who stopped 39 shots in all, while Bryan Haczyk registered the other score for the Titans (19-23-6), who needed OT to win their last game against Reading back on January 16.
MacIntyre, just taken off reserve prior to the game, played well in defeat with 29 stops. Alex Berry and T.J. Syner lit the lamp in a losing effort for the Royals (31-12-6), who have lost three in a row.
Although Reading had the better of the play, Trenton saw the better of the chances in the opening 20 minutes.
Jacob Cepis roared in alone with half the ice in front of him as the clock ticked towards the 8 1/2 minute mark of the opening period, but he fired high and wide with a backhander.
Andy Bohmbach followed on the next shift by snaking his way into the slot from the right circle, but MacIntyre flashed his glove to snare the rising shot.
Jesse Todd followed up just under two minutes later by trying to sneak a shovel shot inside the near post from the left wing, but the Reading netminder closed off the gap in time.
It was status quo in the ensuing 20 minutes.
Connor Goggin narrowly missed Cepis during a 2-on-1 rush in a short-handed situation just prior to the midway point of the second period and Ullrich had a bid to extend his point streak sail high over the net with under five minutes to play.
MacIntyre’s best save of the frame came with 3 1/2 minutes left, as Ullrich led a 3-on-1 through the middle and the Reading goaler stood firm in his crease despite a head fake towards Bohmbach and padded away the shot.
On a late power play, an early whistle benefitted the Royals, as a Langlais shot caromed off the top of MacIntyre’s glove and into the crease. The visiting goaltender dove on his back to try and smother the puck, and after several frantic pokes, it was worked loose at the same time play was blown dead from the referee closest to the scrum behind the net.
The hosts finally broke through with 8:24 played in the third period, as Todd’s initial shot was stopped, then flopped on by MacIntyre just outside his crease. Problem was, the puck was worked loose by the impact, and Ullrich flipped the disc home to make it 1-0.
Reading answered only 49 seconds later as Berry converted a T.J. Syner pass from atop the crease, but were undone by a David Vallorani boarding minor.
Only eight seconds into that advantage, the Titans went up 2-1. Derrick Pallis won a draw back to Eric Baier, whose shot from the left circle was turned away, but Haczyk was right on the doorstep to bang it home.
Still, the Royals took the punch and countered, as Syner tapped in a Dustin Stevenson offering from the right post with 3:31 to go and it was a 2-2 deadlock. That score came seconds after a tripping penalty to Bohmbach expired and seemed to lift a collective weight off the Titans bench.
Notes: Trenton improved to 5-6-1 this season vs. Reading and also won its forth straight game overall that went beyond 60 minutes of play…Reading dropped to 5-6 this year in games decided beyond regulation, and 2-3 in overtime contests…Syner had been sent down from Hershey on Friday, as was fellow forward Matt Pope and defenseman Brett Flemming, while Sergey Kostenko was placed on reserve…The Titans welcomed Bohmbach from reserve and placed forward Stephen Schultz on reserve…Cepis and Reading’s Stan Galiev each recorded a game-high six shots on goal…Heeter gained third star, Haczyk was voted second star, and Ullrich was named first star.