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Published: Sunday, 12/19/2004

Storm slides to sixth loss in last 8 games

BY DAN SAEVIG
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The Reading Royals offered up a Baker's Dozen last night at the Sports Arena and then proceeded to frost the Storm and Toledo coach Nick Vitucci.

The visitors dressed just 13 skaters - eight forwards and five defensemen - but had no trouble with Toledo, scoring three first period goals and coasting to a 5-2 victory.

So upset was Vitucci with his team's effort that he called a timeout with 4:19 remaining in the second period and the score 5-1. After verbally blasting his club with an animated outburst, Vitucci then threw two sets of sticks - about nine or 10 in total - on the ice.

"We were stick-checking," said Vitucci, who was given a gross misconduct for his antics. "We were slashing instead of laying the body on a team that you could wear down because of their numbers, and then when we did have the puck on our sticks we were soft with it.

"I figured if they just wanted to stick-check all night, they could check the sticks that went flying through the air."

The lumber was about the only thing that took off from the Toledo bench on a night when Reading leapfrogged over the Storm and into fifth place in the ECHL North.

The Royals have 24 points; the Storm, 23.

Despite being three players under the ECHL limit of 16 skaters and two goalies and having as many fans in the stands wearing Royals' player sweaters as were on the ice, Reading jumped on top quickly, scoring on the first shot of the game.

Storm defenseman Jason Maleyko couldn't control a bouncing puck to the right of netminder Logan Koopmans. It landed on the stick of Jeff Miles who converted just 19 seconds after the opening draw.

Almost two minutes later, Reading made it 2-0.

On the power-play, Reagan Rome tossed a wrist shot from the right point toward the net. It was redirected in front by Eric Fortier.

The Royals' final goal in the first came from Judd Medak.

With Reading sustaining presssure in the Toledo end, Medak was camped to the left of Kopmans.

Awaiting a pass, the Royals' forward pulled away from Maleyko and was wide open to accept a feed from Fortier that was easily one-timed home at 16:45.

The Royals have five skaters plus goalie Cody Rudkowsky on recall to the American Hockey League as well as three more players on injured reserve, but one wouldn't know it by the way they continued to pile it on in the second with two more goals.

Tired of the display, Vitucci blew a gasket.

"He's frustrated and we're frustrated," Maleyko said. "When a coach does stuff like that, you want to go out and prove him wrong.

"He put us down and you want to prove him wrong instead of playing bad. He's trying to challenge us and, hopefully, [today] we can answer the challenge."

Toledo, which hosts Reading again today at 3, has now lost six of its last eight starts.

"It was by far the worst game we've played this season," Vitucci said.

"Other games we haven't won, we've shown up and had chances to win. Tonight we didn't."

NOTES: Toledo is expected to get Nick Parillo back from Grand Rapids of the AHL today as well as netminder Scott Fankhouser who has been with Chicago of the AHL.

Fankhouser didn't fare well with the Wolves, playing Wednesday and allowing two goals in 12 minutes of play. He followed that by permitting seven goals on 30 shots in a loss to the Milwaukee Admirals on Friday.

Contact Dan Saevig at: dsaevig@theblade.com.



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